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These are experiments, demos and covers that have been done for fun over the years. These are totally free and downloadable or streamable. Just click the song title! The covers go from Prince to The Carter Family to The Supersuckers to Elvis Presley to Robert Plant to a cover of Willie Nelson's cover of Leon Russell! Enjoy!

 

17 Days(The rain will come down, then U will have 2 choose. If U believe, look 2 the dawn and U shall never lose.)
(Artist: Chris McKay)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

(Recorded February 13 - 14, 2007) I got on a Prince kick following his big ol' Super Bowl Appearance and when I was listening back to some of my old favorites, I stumbled across this song, which was the b-side of the "When Doves Cry" single. It stuck in my head for a few days (not quite 17) before I finally picked up a guitar and played "my version". I didn't listen to it or learn it, this is simply how I played it when I first tried. It's in a different key and quite a few things (even one chord progression) have changed but I think I managed to keep a lot of Prince's tricks in there while keeping it sounding like me. I played everything on it and had a blast doing it! I hope you like it too.

 

 

 

 

Oh I Wept
(Artist : Q-Sign)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

This is my favorite recording from the sessions for the Q-Sign sessions for Earth Loops And Goodness. I'm still very proud of that album, but I was never really satisfied with the mixes completely. This song was a cover of an old Free song.

It was also the very first song that Tom O'Gorman and I learned sitting on the banks of the Oconee River in the spring of '95 when we started the band. So it's a sentimental memory as well. I loved that band. We were together for a few years and Tom and I wrote some songs that I'm still doing "for the first time" with my current bands. It's a shame we never got to do them together.

This, however, was a cover of a song he got into when he was in London. He pitched it, I learned it and we did it semi-regularly. This is the rare case where I feel like the cover is better than the original. And yes, I say that even though I'm part of the band covering it. You compare and contrast and tell me.

While I was never satisfied with the mixes for the album proper, this was just a rough mix. It was never even given a final mix. This probably took us 15 minutes to mix. It has the right amount of air and the feel is right. By comparison, we spent 12 hours mixing the song "The Journey" and it's not nearly as potent. No bass line was even written for this before the record button was hit. As we got into the studio, we realized that I would be playing bass so I literally ad libbed it on the spot. That was the first time I ever did that and I'm proud of it.

There were 3 songs recorded during the Earth Loops sessions that never got released on the album. This one and 2 originals. One of the originals, called "She Walks" had its middle section stripped out and it's now in the middle of "Tonight Never Happened". The other was a blues-rock song called "Emotions To Free" that still may show up.

They really should've all been on the album. Oh well, live and learn.

The lineup on this recording is:

Tom O'Gorman (lead vocals)
Chris McKay (harmony vocals, lead guitar and bass)
Andy Ainsworth (rhythm guitar and guitar solo)
Michael Rietveld (drums)

It was recorded at The Jam Room in Columbia, SC by Greg Davis.


Creepy Jackalope Eye
(Artist: Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

(Finished recording 2-2-05, Added 2-3-05) This was recorded as part of our "Pre-production" for the C'mon, Accept Your Joy album. I always start the sessions with a warm up song. Today, this was that. The story behind us doing this is pretty simple. After the band formed, we began putting together a set list. Each of us raided our collections and made CD's for the others of songs we'd potentially like to cover. Then the two that didn't make a given CD chose which one they'd like to do. For example, Tom and I chose this song from Frank's CD. Frank and Tom chose "Haven't Got A Clue" from mine and Frank and I chose "Jewel Box" from Tom's. "Creepy Jackalope Eye" is a cover of Steve Earle by way of The Supersuckers. Our version is fairly punky. This was our original set ender.

 

Goodbye Tuesday
(Artist: Chris McKay With Star Zero)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

This one is from the tail end of the Star Zero days. Clearly, it didn't fit in with the rest of what we were doing. I wrote the music after seeing The Who. I was thinking of songs like "The Kids Are Alright". Patrick Jason wrote the lyrics and he and I crafted the melody together. I always thought this was the best co-write he and I ever did. Andy Ainsworth contributed to the chords for the middle 8. This recording is actually based on the Star Zero demo. Mike Rietveld is playing drums, Frank Defreese on bass and Andy Ainsworth plays the rhythm.

 

Mystery Train / Tiger Man
(Artist: Doug Clark)
(Left click the song title to play, right click to download)

According to the home-burned CD that Doug gave me, this was recorded in the spring of 1999. A few months after Q-Sign disbanded, I began doing some session work at Sold Out Studios in Commerce, Georgia whenever the owner (Donnie Young) thought I might be good. In North Georgia, most of the acts were bluegrass, Southern Gospel and country. It was interesting jumping in and trying to contribute what I could to their music.

Doug Clark had retired and had always been a guitar player who loved music, especially rockabilly and early rock and roll. He had already recorded pretty much his whole 8-song CD. For some reason, he decided to have the lead vocals replaced and I got the call.

I grew up with this music. I knew all of the songs. My Dad, in particular, loved this stuff. So while I will never claim that I can really pull off material like this, I sure had fun trying.

I hope you can tell when you hear this that we were simply having a good time.

I have no idea who played bass or drums. I wasn't around during that part of the session and only came in for the lead vocals and mixing. I know that's Doug Clark on guitars and me trying to sing it. I hope you enjoy and at least got a kick out of it.

You'll see as I post a lot of these songs that I loved doing this kind of thing just so I could share it with my Grandmother, my Dad and my Mom because I knew they would "get it".

 

Standing On The Mountain (Second Version)
(Artist: Chris McKay & Nowhere Society)
(L
eft click the title to play, right click to download)

Way back even prior to Q-Sign and all the way back to high school, I was recording and making "albums" even if they were just from cassette to cassette. This song was originally recorded for the second "album" I made called Nowhere Society. This is not that studio version. For some reason, during the sessions for the third album (which was called Psychodelicate), we had a few minutes about one in the morning so we re-recorded a few songs "live in the studio". We re-recorded "Standing On The Mountain" from the second album plus "Sideways (Over Green)" and "Close Your Eyes And See" from the first album (Thinkyard). Then for some even stranger reason, I decided to add more guitars to the live one that Brennen Reece played while I played bass and Jeb Kucik played drums. C. Jason Brazell then came in and played the slide guitar using a cigarette lighter as the slide. I also added some additional vocals.

Basically, this is just an overly wired, thrown together and roughly mixed outtake from a glorified demo.

 

Savior Cycle
(Artist: Chris McKay And The Lifehouse Method)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

("Composed and recorded" on April 15, 2007) Okay, how do I even explain this? Pete Townshend of The Who, programmer Dave Snowdon and a mathematician / composer named Lawrence Ball created software to compose music based on personal "portraits" of real people. One day, I received this in my email: "Congratulations, Chris McKay, you've won the Lifehouse Lottery! You have been granted the opportunity to sit for 3 musical portraits. You are one of the first few people to have this opportunity and we would like to request your assistance in beta testing the system before its official launch later this year." So that's that. Pete Townshend used this method (more or less) to compose many of his classic songs (included but not limited to) "Baba O'Riley", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Relay", "Who Are You", "You Better You Bet", "Eminence Front", "Let My Love Open The Door" and "Fragments". Maybe that'll give you a tipoff to what this might sound like.

For this piece, I used the vocals only from "Wide Bicycle" for my "voice". I then used a photo of me that Amanda took in Atlanta in '06, followed by a guitar part from a so far unused song called "Evil Save Me" as a "sound". Finally, I used the cheesy keyboard / drum machine double up from "Wide Bicycle" as the tempo. The computer then turned all of these things into numbers and then digital files to create this first piece of music. I will admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed when I first heard it. It seems to know something I don't know. It's very strange. I'm quite proud of this "portrait". I titled it after the two songs that I used as "algorithm setters".

Even more interesting to me is that now I've technically co-written a song with Pete Townshend and the copyright on the song reflects that. In fact, Pete has been given permission to use it for anything he wants without my permission. I have no veto power over what he does with it. I do, however, keep my financial share of the song and I have permission to do whatever I wish with it as well. In turnabout as fair play, he can't veto my use either. My first use is to share this with you here.

 

Flight Of The Sirens
(Artist: Chris McKay & The Lifehouse Method)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

("Composed and recorded" on April 15, 2007)

Here's another of the Pete Townshend "co-writes" through the magic of the interweb.

For this piece, I used the "surfer guitar" part from the bridge of "An Uncertain Flight" as my voice, a photo of Amanda and me at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the demo of "Waiting For The Siren" and a clicked-in-by-mouse tempo. It's pretty whacked out. There's a ring that reminds me of my tinnitus, some bits that remind me of Bowie's '77 Berlin era, an arpeggio gone crazy that's reminiscent of Zappa's Synclavier work and a noise arc that builds 'til the end. Amanda says that it's crazier because she was in the picture. The title is taken from the two songs that I used to set the piece.

 


Green And Gold
(Artist: Chris McKay)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

This one appeared live for the first time when I was in Q-Sign. It was going to be on the second album (that never happened - I promise it was going to be killer). It did have different lyrics in those days and was called "You Never Know." We did it live pretty often. I recorded it for my out of print demo collection Perpetual Motion Machine, but this is the first time this version's been heard. I'm still hoping to find the right home for a full production studio take of it as I'm very proud of this song.


Liar's Dance
(Artist: Chris McKay)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

This song was originally done by Robert Plant on his underrated 1990 album Manic Nirvana. I've just always liked it and often play it when I'm sitting around with a guitar. So far, I've only performed it live once. This (and all of these acoustic recordings were done live with one mic on the guitar and one mic for the vocal. One take and out as I never expected to let anyone hear 'em.



A Song For You

(Artist: Chris McKay)
(Left click the title to play, right click to download)

Sure, it's sappy but it's just so well written. This is a Leon Russell song but I'm covering Willie Nelson's cover of Leon's song. To hear the version that I'm borrowing, check out the amazing Willie Nelson And Family Live album from '78.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken
(Artist: Chris McKay)
(Left click the song title to play, right click to download)

This is the first time this recording has been put in digital form. Back in the Q-Sign days (late '90s), I had done quite a bit of recording and experimenting and I always proudly showed it off to my Mom, Dad and Grandmother. They were proud, but I could see that they didn't always "get it". So when I wound up with a 4-track cassette recorder, I recorded about 40 minutes of old country and early rock tunes and put it on tapes for each of them in the hopes of showing them that I could actually play. Everything you hear on this is me.

It really wasn't a stretch for me. This is the kind of music I first heard. This is what I would hear in my Grandmother's living room with the family members gathered around singing and me trying to keep up and contribute something. My Grandmother taught me chords and melody and my Dad taught me to rock it up. This type of music and singing are really the roots of everything I do to this day (whether or not it shows). Outside of my immediate family, no one has ever heard any of these recordings. Listening back to this, it ain't bad considering the bare bones recording (cheap drum machine, 4-track cassette, one Radio Shack $10 mic). This makes me want to go home. I wish it still existed. I miss my Grandmother and my Dad everyday and I'm so glad my Mom's still hanging in there for a while. My Mom has requested this be played at her funeral. Seriously. One of the other songs that I recorded at the same time was heard at both my Dad's and my Grandmother's funerals so I guess they liked it. In fact, this is the tape that was in his cassette player when my Dad died.

And now, I'm sharing it with you. As my uncle would say, "It is what it is".

 

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