Music Collector Has Rare Copy Of His Band's First Demo
Gary Sherman, high school English tutor and hospital orderly, claims to have, in addition to a large collection of recorded music for which he did none of the writing, performing or producing, an extremely rare copy of a demo tape recorded by his former band "Jiff and the Choosy Mothers".
Released circa 1998, the demo, according to Sherman, became a cult hit on the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus and is one of only two known copies still in existence.
Sherman was only able to ascertain the track listening of the mix after putting the tape into his cassette deck to play for reporters, as he was unable to make out the dot-matrix style and time-faded font on the sun-yellowed inlay card.
"That thing's got some great stuff on it," said Sherman, admiring the scratched cassette case. "This has the only version of 'Baba O'Riley' we ever recorded, which ended halfway through because the amplifier started smoking. There's also some killer Doors covers and some obscure Derek and the Dominoes – sick."
The six-track demo was recorded live in the living room of the house in which he and drummer Dave Gladstone lived in at the time, which also served as the venue for the foursome's regular weekend gigs. An audience can be heard in the background responding to an unidentified deejay who announces at the start of the tape, "Ladies and Gentlemen – the four drunkest men in the world and a band that needs no introduction: Jiff and the Choosy Mothers!"
"Check it out, listen," ordered Sherman as he put his ear close to the speaker. "[Lead guitarist Brian] Hurtzel flubs the words on the second verse."
The tape indeed reveals that after the nearly indecipherable opening chords to 'Baba O'Riley' and out-of-tune power guitar chords that Hurtzel did mistake Pete Townsend's lyrics "Don't cry, don't brace your arms," for "Don't ummummumm, don't fuck your lawn, yeah!"
Of the 15 record albums, 20-odd cassette tapes and nearly 110 compact discs he owns, Sherman maintains that the demo is the only irreplaceable and priceless recording of his. His collection of pre-internet Pearl Jam bootlegs, a collectors' edition gold-coated copy of Pink Floyd's "With You Were Here" and a semi-mint 45 rpm record album of Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" all take second seat to the only existing proof that, at one time and place, Sherman could play guitar and sing.
"We used to try and record all of our practices so we could go home and listen to what we did later that night," Sherman stated, "but we could never get the [microphone] positioned just right, or the dog would knock it over or something. This is the only recording we've got, but there are probably at least a few of these still out there somewhere."
After stopping to admire the intro to "Rockin' in the Free World", Sherman continued: "I'll bet the other three guys in the band know where to find one, because they were pretty hot for awhile there. Still, I haven't seen those guys in awhile, and I don't know how to get a hold of them to ask them for another copy if I lost this one here."
The other three former members of the band could not be reached for comment on the matter, nor could anyone on the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus who had attended any of the band's gigs.
But although the lineup of Sherman on vocals and rhythm guitar, Hurtzel on lead, Dave Gladstone on drums and Jake Hibben on bass seems to have called it quits for good, Sherman still holds out hope for a reunion of some kind, "if even for one last version of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'."
"That is, of course, if we can remember how to play our instruments in the first place," he added.
"It's always important to hold onto old recordings and stuff," said Sherman's neighbor Gary Jacobs, who had stopped by Sherman's apartment during the interview to borrow some flour, "because you're just never sure if someone in the band is going to make big it or not. That thing might be worth some money and – who knows? – maybe it'll wind up on some anthology some day?"
Sherman laughed in agreement and as he left the living room for the kitchen to get the requested flour, Jacobs said quietly to this reporter, "I think after six years, you can pretty much nail that coffin shut. Sometimes I'll call him, tell him I'm coming over and he'll be 'accidentally' listening to his old demo when I walk in, like he had it on for his own pleasure or something."
Wiping a freshly-picked booger onto Sherman's rug he added, "It's like, 'Yes, I know you were in a band, dude, and you guys really impressed the ten hippies you played for, but I'm sober so don't bother.'"