Yerself Is Steam

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Yerself is Steam
Studio album by Mercury Rev
Released May 14, 1991
Recorded 1990-1991
Genre Neo-psychedelia, noise pop
Length 49:19 (UK)/57:09 (US)
Label Mint Films/Jungle Records; Columbia
Producer David Baker, Jonathan Donahue, Dave Fridmann, Grasshopper, Suzanne Thorpe, Jimy Chambers
Mercury Rev chronology
Yerself Is Steam
(1991)
Boces
(1993)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [1]

Yerself is Steam is the 1991 debut album by Mercury Rev. The title is a malapropism of the phrase "Your self-esteem," and is taken from a recurring lyric in the opening "Chasing a Bee." "Car Wash Hair" was released as a single before the album. "Very Sleepy Rivers" is supposedly about a serial killer, with the river acting a metaphor for the killer's relative calm and sudden tendency to snap.

A music video for the song "Chasing A Bee" was shot at an abandoned infectious disease hospital that once housed "Typhoid Mary" on North Brother Island in New York City, and was directed by Jim Spring and Jens Jurgensen.

Other editions of Yerself is Steam have been released in the UK, including CDs with the "Car Wash Hair" CD single or the Mint Films label compilation CD Mint Humbucker, and LPs pressed on white vinyl with blue splatters, pink swirl vinyl or transparent blue vinyl.

Dean Wareham made a guest appearance on "Car Wash Hair" and helped with recording, supposedly after Fridmann spent the band's advance on a holiday package [1].

Track listing[edit]

The back cover lists deliberately erroneous run times. They are listed here in (parentheses and italics).

  1. "Chasing a Bee" – 7:11 (4:27)
  2. "Syringe Mouth" – 4:04 (3:27)
  3. "Coney Island Cyclone" – 2:37 (3:27)
  4. "Blue and Black" – 6:00 (4:27)
  5. "Sweet Oddysee of a Cancer Cell t' th' Center of Yer Heart" – 7:41 (5:27)
  6. "Frittering" – 8:48 (4:27)
  7. "Continuous Trucks and Thunder Under a Mother's Smile" – 0:43 (2:27)
  8. "Very Sleepy Rivers" – 12:15 (13:15 on Sony/Columbia CD edition) (12:27)
  9. "Car Wash Hair (The Bee's Chasing Me)" – 6:44 (hidden bonus track on Sony/Columbia CD edition)

"Car Wash Hair" appears as track 99 on the 1992 Sony/Columbia version of the album. Also, on this same version, "Very Sleepy Rivers" is divided into fragments between tracks 8 (7:15) and 9 to 98, which are each 4 seconds long. The audio slowly fades out around track 83 and, around track 88, someone starts saying 'pick' repeatedly with some barely audible laughter. During this quieter section, a low-level sub-bass signal (under 20 Hz) was mixed underneath, which reportedly caused damage to some equipment at Sony's mastering studio.[citation needed]

All songs written by Mercury Rev.

Lego My Ego[edit]

In 1992, Mint Films/Jungle re-released Yerself is Steam with a bonus LP/CD entitled Lego My Ego. The title is a parody of the Eggo waffles ad slogan, and is taken from a piece of voice tape at the start of "Frittering," where one musician tells another to "let go of my fucking ego" after they tell him how to play a song. It consists of rare tracks and a Peel Session. Mint Films released another edition in 2007 consisting of both CDs plus an all-region DVD of the videos for "Chasing a Bee" and "Car Wash Hair."

CD version:
1 is a cover of the Sly and the Family Stone song, originally released on the A-side of a 7" single in March 1992 by the Rough Trade Singles Club.
2 is recorded live by the BBC Mobile Recording Studio at Finsbury Park, London, June 1992. "Shhh/Peaceful" is a cover of the Miles Davis song (from In a Silent Way), which is only quoted briefly in the introduction.
3, 4, 6 and 8 are from a Peel Session recorded on August 27, 1991 and first broadcast on October 5, 1991. 8 is "Chasing a Bee" with some changed lyrics. Some releases title it "Chasing a Girl (Inside a Car)," which is what is sung in the title line of this version. The liner notes add about this song, "Guitars should be much louder, but what can you do?"
5 is the same recording as the single version, but with some extra material crossfaded in at the end. 1, 3, 4 and 8 also have unusual tapes (mostly voice) added and to the beginning and/or end of the songs.
7 is credited as being the "original theme from the 1991 motion picture 'Moonbuggy,' a film by Howard Nelson," and performed by Grasshopper.

  1. If You Want Me to Stay – 4:08
  2. Shhh/Peaceful / Very Sleepy Rivers – 14:52
  3. Frittering – 5:18
  4. Coney Island Cyclone – 3:20
  5. Car Wash Hair – 7:25
  6. Syringe Mouth – 3:11
  7. Blood on the Moon – 8:21
  8. Chasing a Bee (Inside a Car) – 10:09

LP version:

  1. Shhh/Peaceful / Very Sleepy Rivers – 14:52
  2. Blood on the Moon – 8:21
  3. Frittering – 5:18
  4. Coney Island Cyclone – 3:20
  5. Syringe Mouth – 3:11
  6. Chasing a Bee (Inside a Car) – 10:09

All songs written by Mercury Rev, except "If You Want Me to Say" by Sylvester Stewart and "Shhh/Peaceful" by Miles Davis. "Blood on the Moon" has no writer's credit, but is presumably also written by Grasshopper.

Radio Whipped promo edition[edit]

Sony/Columbia released a promo double-CD version of the album in 1992. The first disc is the U.S. version of the album. The second disc is the U.S. "Chasing a Bee" CD single. A "Radio Whipped Sticker" on the back of the CD jewelbox numbers the nine tracks on the album as A, B, C, D, E, F, U, C, K, and the six tracks of the single as:

A. Chasing A Bee (7:09)
B. If You Want Me To Stay (3:37)
S. Coney Island Cyclone (2:40)
U. Frittering (4:26)
R. Syringe Mouth (3:09)
D. Chasing A Girl (Inside A Car) (6:56)

S, U, R, and D are the Peel Session recordings, and are actually one continuous track for 17:53. The run times for B, S, U and D are shorter than on Lego My Ego because they don't contain the unusual tape material that was added to these songs on it.

Personnel[edit]

  • Jonathan Donahue – Silver Pickup Guitar, Vocals when left to himself
  • Grasshopper – Unafon Guitar Reels
  • Suzanne Thorpe – Point Red Flute
  • Dave Fridmann – Bass Explore, Majestic Bellowphone, additional engineering
  • David Baker – Vocals when it sounds like something he would do
  • Jimy Chambers – Drumming, Blue-Line
  • C. Gavazzi - Trumpet on "Car Wash Hair"
  • Dean Wareham - Additional vocals, production on "Car Wash Hair"
  • Keith Cleversley - Engineer
  • Kristin Peterson - Photography [2]
  • Mooneyham - Artwork

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Yerself Is Steam at AllMusic