The next album on the list is another one that changed my life and the way I perceived music. Will Owsley is the founder of a legendary powerpop trio called The Semantics, which featured Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey on drums. Their sole album Powerbill was only released in Japan and the band never got the break they sought for. You might think that this is the album I’m going to talk about – which I could have gone on about at length – but I’m going to focus on Owsley’s first solo album Owsley released in 1999.
The story as I’ve heard it is that he recorded this album in his home studio, which he financed by touring with Amy Grant. When he started shopping around for a deal a lot of labels liked what they heard but wanted him to re-record the album to make it sound “cooler” or something like that. Owsley refused and waited until he found the label that wanted to put it out as it was, and he was rewarded for his persistence with a grammy nomination for “best engineering”. Ain’t that great?
Anyhow, the album in itself is a masterpiece. Packed with powerpop gems, full of energy and beatle-esque songwriting, it had a great impact on me when I first heard it a year after it came out and inspired me in so many ways, changing the way I write music. “Oh No The Radio” might be one of the coolest opening tracks of all time, and “Coming Up Roses” is a song every songwriter would wish they’d written!
Unfortunately, only one track is available for listening on Owsley’s MySpace. But it’s the beautiful ballad “Sentimental Favorite” so there’s really no reason to complain. I’ve been searching YouTube for any kind of Owsley or Semantics clip withouth luck. If you readers happen to stumble upon a clip, let me know.