Thursday, March 11, 2010

"I may not offer anything but a few uneven rhymes..."

Even though I did not know him, I miss Joseph Marques a little bit more each day. Marques, the vocalist/lyricist for one of my favorite college-era bands, Winter Hours, died of an overdose seven years ago. Oftentimes compared to Jim Morrison due to his rich, velvety voice, Marques and his band never reached the acclaim of The Doors, but they certainly had the potential. Maybe if they'd come along just a little bit later, when record labels figured out that there was a market for "college rock," they would have reached the heights of peers REM and U2.

I recently learned that a Winter Hours tribute album had been quietly released two years ago, a labor of love put out on a small label to commemorate the band's 25th anniversary. I could not order it fast enough!

While there are some bright spots on the double length CD, what struck me most about the album was how insubstantial the songs sounded without Marques' trademark vocals. Each track made me want to submerge myself in the original again; to rinse away the shallow pretenders and ride once more in his ocean's storm.

Why has no one snapped up the rights to release the band's back catelogue? Does Link Records own the rights and some sort of acrimony keeps them from resurfacing? Have the masters gone walkabout? I don't have the answers - all I know is that it's a shame that this worthy cache of songs isn't readily available.

I'm one of the lucky ones - I own all their output on vinyl and an analog-to-digital mixing deck. I've spent countless hours transferring everything over to MP3 so that I can take Winter Hours with me where ever I go, yet I'd still snap up the music again if it was officially released.

We can only win.