"The ghost that would not be" came as a result of 2 years of not playing or performing music. After The Happy Regrets disbanded in 2000, I decided to return to school. Right after graduation I began writing these songs, and after not living in San Francisco for 9 months I was ready to return.
My goal was to get back to the city, record my album and get in another band. I soon found the rest of The Bye Bye Blackbirds, which is the band I''m in, and at the same time went to work on recording this album. "The ghost" is a reflection of my life during this strange time. I had friends and band mates play and sing on the record, and I want to thank everyone involved. The album turned out very sad and beautiful. One can never tell how these songs you hear in your head are going to turn out when played and recorded, but I am very proud of the results.
This is the first of 3 William Duke Presents.... records I plan on putting out. I''m already busy at work on number 2.
Below are a few reviews, and kind words, as well as not so kind words people have said about my album. They seem to shine an honest light on my work.
"Singer/songwriter William Duke has a vocal delivery and
timbre very much like Elvis Costello''s on his self-released CD William Duke Presents...The Ghost That Would Not Be. Duke, however, is a little more power pop inclined in his material than Costello, and certainly works on a more modest production scale. That''s not to say that this the production is inadequate; in fact, it''s pretty good, only that it has an intimate feel that''s both less robust and gentler. The tunes are a little wistful and quirky, sometimes crossing over into sadness, the quirkiness heightened by sound effects between some of the tunes. Mellotron-like tones give this more of a slight British psychedelic throwback feel than what Costello does with his songs, as well, sometimes with a slightly nostalgic haunted aura. Despite the obscurity into which any self-released CD threatens to fall, it''s likable and well-packaged, and would likely appeal to as many or more indie pop fans as many far more high-profile albums."
"William is a member of The Bye Bye Blackbirds. On this, his first solo record, he delivers a 19 song, charming, acoustic guitar-led, organic, pop masterpiece that''s brimming with hooks and wonderful harmonies! The music here provides some insight into his current band''s musical direction, and doesn''t stray very far from the sound. The musical soundbed includes fuzzy guitars, woodwinds, drums, maracas, mandolin, strings, mellotron, and other assorted keyboards. The intelligently arranged, lushly spacious songs have an earthy, homemade feel to them - and that''s a good thing here! It''s light-psych at times! Imagine if Brian Wilson made a rootsy, stripped down solo record. There''s also a very cool cover of The Beatles'' "Baby''s In Black"! "Black Is The Color" is very Lemon Trees-like! In many ways, it''s also similar in mood/treatment to the latest Cloud Eleven CD. EXCELLENT!!"
"William Duke is in The Bye Bye Blackbirds, a band that celebrates the classic sounds of late 80s New Zealand jangle indie pop, amongst many cool sounds, but this is a solo release from 2005 and this is how indie power pop sounding music should sound like more often. William Duke is from San Francisco and must have some mighty interesting friends or an interesting book collection, as "The Ghost That Would Not Be" is one high-brow affair, with expressively complex melodies interwoven with under-the-sun bedroom production flourishes. Dukes does most of the work here, but his industrious, lofty spirit lifts to the realm of "the very special". Maybe a bit out there for folks looking for undemanding convention with their pop, but if you want a different spice, William Duke will serve it up. Fans of Beulah, The Lilys, Olivia Tremor Control, GBV and Oranger will be on the right path. It`s fiercely original with soft and personal vocals. Duke`s songs are full of gentle melodic steam, filled with superb twists of the wrist or surprising and sublime eruptions of musical surprise. Very Highly Recommended!!"
------Not Lame Recording Company
"Ah. I love when this happens. It all starts with a rumor i heard a while back about a repressing of Beulah''s Handsome Western States(it is being repressed, by the way). So, I thought I would head over to their website to investigate, and among other things, such as repressing confirmations, i see that Bill Swan has been working with Beulah''s live sound engineer, Chris Palmatier, on a EP for a band called Bye Bye Blackbirds. Having never heard of them i went to their website, and low and behold, no music to listen to. I was crushed, as you could imagine, but i found hope. In their news section I found a link to some songs from band member Willam Duke''s solo project. If Bye Bye Blackbirds sound anything like this, Im going to love them as well. Nothing better than an unexpected surprise on a friday morning.
If you could, for a minute, try to imagine if the Lucksmiths stole all of the synths from the new Calla album and made a song. Well, Willam Duke beat ''em to it and he called it "A Part of Me." As for the other song, it''s just as good, if not better, but I dont feel like describing it for you. Im too lazy and I have to get back to making a collage of printer equipment. Just listen to them. Oh and be a doll and let me know if you liked him or not. If you hate him, email me and Ill give my home address, I like getting hate mail."
"Singer/songwriter William Duke has a voice so akin to Elvis Costello that he could be in a Vegas review. His magnetic vocals lend a familiar pitch--at best, Duke''s upbeat tunes about love and loss reach far into the Costello cadence. Duke''s solo debut is an ambitious project that blends traditional drums and bass with relentless electronic sources, spoken lyrics and more guitar strumming than an Indigo Girls concert.
The album is marked by these vast, near empty periods of electronic sound, often backed with hypnotic keyboard riffs. Initially, the intermissions are quirky and fun, but after so much area is consumed by dragging moments, recurrent acoustic bridges and electronic interruptions, the album becomes a frustrating listen. Cutting out the odd space interludes would reveal the meat of the album that''s buried underneath these sound beds.
Duke is a capable musician with a lot of talent, and the ambitious songwriting found on his underlines his freewheeling idealism and points to his potential. Although The Ghost That Would Not Be gets a little pretentious with its noise breaks, the moments where Duke does shine hint that he has what it takes to make a great album. His skills just need some honing. For instance, "A part of me" is a glorious gem that nods to Duke''s pop sensibilities. He knows how to craft a catchy, beautifully tight song--he simply avoids the paradigm on most of the album.
Instead, Duke veers toward meandering melodies and drowsy rhythms, underscored by more beeps and whirls than an Atari video game soundtrack. Often the result is so mish-mashed that the rhythmic devices and electronic filler overwhelm his vocals."
----Christopher Petro, West Coast Performer Magazine
"William Duke, WOW! You are mighty."
------Scott Mathews, multi-platinum award winning producer
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