Tuesday, February 4, 2014

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 8: William Elliott Whitmore- The Death Valley Sessions

For the eighth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the third of three collections of demos for one of my FAVORITE artists of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

Whitmore Live in Australia
This is my third blog dedicated to the raw material of William Elliott Whitmore, and believe it or not, the well is still aplenty to draw from. The last time I saw WEW was in Sydney Australia at the Annondale Hotel. Now, for those of you who don't know, EVERYTHING is WAY more expensive in Australia. A bottle of whiskey at the store will run you around $80, and a 6-pack can run you into almost $20. No, this did not stop me from buying shots of Jameson at the bar before and during the gig, but it did definitely slow me down to the point of it being the most sober I have ever seen WEW.

Whitmore is famous for drinking with the audience at his gigs, this usually results in his taking multiple shots handed to him from the crowd. Unfortunately, either the crowd didn't know this or the cost of $15 a shot was too steep for them to care because he sat there basically sober the entire time. Whitmore sober is a fantastic player, but give him just a little booze and a little more of the Tom Waitsian emotion pours from his soul. As such, I passed him a few shots of Jameson from the crowd and he called me crazy for spending that much money on him and told me to wait around after the show and he'd buy me a few back. An incredibly sweet offer that I unfortunately didn't have time to take him up on.

If you recall my last blog on the subject of Whitmore, my good friend cried upon witnessing the depth and emotion of his performance, well this night was no different. During the time I my fiance was stranded out in Australia and the only way I could visit her until her K1 Fiance Visa went through was to come and visit, which I did several four times last year (our ordeal is detailed here). As I was set to leave for the States the next day, combined with his lyrics of love and lost, Liv began uncontrollably sobbing. That's how powerful this lone guy on a stage's presence is, he literally has the power to make people sob at his performances.

Front Cover
As to The Death Valley Sessions, once again, almost no information is available about the demo session past the point that he sold homemade copies of it on his 2002-2003 tour. There are a few websites reporting that he recorded this shortly after graduation High School while having a brief period living in San Francisco, but I have seen no real documentation as to this. Regardless, I believe it was indeed recorded in Death Valley. The album is far and away the best quality collection of demos that have leaked thus far from Whitmore, but I have been searching for a real copy of it for years so that I can make a high quality FLAC encode, and not listen to the low quality 128Kbps version that I am unfortunately supplying here.

On top of amazing early versions of what has become staples of his setlist, this album also features the swirling sounds of the desert itself. I highly doubt that such high quality versions of these songs were recorded outdoors, so more than likely someone recorded the exterior ambient sounds of the desert and laid them overtop of the recorded tracks, but I suppose anything is possible. The stand-out songs on this demo to me are the Old Lady Duet's Pt. 1 & 2. I left these titled as such due to my belief that this is how they were labeled on the original CD. Track one is a heartfelt, very melon-collie take on "My Old Kentucky Home" where the slight cracking in the old woman's vocals is as endearing as it is sad. The second is a take on "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" which is again as heartwarming as it is sad.
Back Cover

Once again, this demo album is yet another intimate look at the raw genius that is William Eliott Whitmore. Do yourself a favor and relisten to his song "Lift My Jug (Song for Hub Cale)" off of this demo, then off of the "Jarrett Mitchell Demos" (which I previously published here), and finally to the final version of the song on his studio album "Ashes to Dust". Doing this is an excellent way to watch WEW craft this song from a well written diamond in the rough, into an amazing, absolutely astounding song that is still manages to be rough around the edges in the best of ways.

As always, go and purchase his actual music, see him on tour, and meet the man himself. These releases are not meant to be the only material you take from the artists, but are intended to give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of some of the best talent that has ever been seen musically on this planet.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
ZIP Archive

The tracklist is:
1:  Introduction
2:  Instrumental
3:  Does Me No Good
4:  Pine Box
5:  Lord Only Knows
6:  Old Lady Duet
7:  From the Cell Door to the Gallows
8:  Diggin' My Grave
9:  Lift My Jug
10: Old Lady Duet 2
11: Our Paths Will Cross Again
12: Instrumental 2

EDIT (8/18/14):
I was contacted by a nice lady named Bailey who shed some light on the sessions and where they're from. MANY THANKS!!!!

"I thought I would tell ya a little about the  WEW recording you posted on your blog. You can purchase that album. It is apart of a book called after the gold rush by Jeremy Deller. The woman you hear on a few of the tracks is Jennie Olson. You can also purchase the 9 picture disc album for 500€"-Bailey Fryschnormeier

EDIT (5/28/15):
I really dig how much love there is for Whitmore out there. I was recently contacted by a very nice man from London named Martin who further shined information on this session and provided a hand written letter from WEW:
Hand written letter & tracklist

"...I do have something concrete to add to the proceedings with regards to "The Death Valley Sessions", anticurrent vol 8.  As your other poster reported, the album is part of an art project put together by Jeremy Deller, check it out HERE.

Before i managed to source a copy of the book with CD I actually asked William if he could let me have a copy.  Generous as always he sent me a CDR with hand drawn artwork and a note giving track listing and explanation of the project's background.  I've scanned the relevant documents and attached them to this e-mail and I hope you find it of interest." -Martin Nisbet 


  1. Hey man, Im a huge Whitmore fan as well and just found your blog... One question though, how do i actually download these demos, if I click on them they just play... do I need a certain program or what,.. if this is a super stupid question I apologize but I NEED these demos I have the Jarret Mitchell one which I have also long been unsure if it is one and the same as Calendar Club or if they are separate... anyway let me know thanks alot...

  2. Right click, save link as, and choose your destination folder. Hope that helps!