Stream Ted Leo’s Shake The Sheets Demos

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Stream Ted Leo’s Shake The Sheets Demos


On October 2004, Ted Leo and his band the Pharmacists followed their classic Hearts Of Oak with Shake The Sheets, which might be an even better album. Next month, Leo and the Pharmacists will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shake The Sheets with a tour where they’ll play the LP in full every night. Today, for Bandcamp Friday, Leo has shared the previously unreleased demos that he recorded for every Shake The Sheets track.

On his Bandcamp page, Ted Leo has written a whole lot of stuff about his decision to release these raw, scrappy demos, which have plenty of life on their own.

I almost didn’t put these up, but my old friend and long-time booking agent, Mahmood Shaikh, assured me they were of interest, so here they are, for this twentieth anniversary of the Shake The Sheets album: the demos. I think the main reason I was hesitant was that I wasn’t sure they revealed much — it’s a little bit like, the songs are there, just… not as good? Ha. But as I think about it a little more now, there are some things that they reveal to me.

For one, the songs were already there, pretty tight, and in almost zero cases underwent any significant changes in the final iterations, because that’s the kind of band we were at that point. I understand that twenty years have gone by, and thus you can’t assume that everyone around now was as around then (for a myriad of reasons, obviously) but from the time Chris started playing with me in 2001, we basically stayed on the road until we lost Lookout! Records from under us in 2005/2006. We played everywhere, all the time, multiple times, every year, and our tightness as a band unit reflected that. This, in turn, led to me starting to write less in long periods of ennui and experimentation, and more just “toward” the band as it was. This wasn’t just happenstance, but a conscious decision to embrace happenstance and meet the moment, and I think that’s also reflected in the demos of the first half of the album, which are all just me. I can often go off into a Ringo/McCartney drum fantasy when I’m in a more stretched-out “songwriter”-y phase, but I think you can probably tell that on all of the songs I drum on here, I’m literally just trying my best to do Chris. Which is funny… to me, at least. Maybe to Chris, too. I’ll ask him.

The other thing to remember, is that amid all the touring, along with it, adjacent to it, etc.; we’d been furiously against and doing what we could to protest the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Stinging from 9/11, stinging from the direction the country took after 9/11, and within our lanes, such as we saw them, hammering and hammering about it. This album, to me, in contrast to how it was often received, has always felt tired and sad, but I was trying to do some calling in, some community gathering, some pausing to consider before getting back out there if we could; and the positive reenergizing aspects of these songs come through more for me in these demos, listening to them now, than I think they ever have up to this day. Hope they may have helped, hope they still could.

Leo has also written reflections on every song from Shake The Sheets, and you can read all of that here. Stream those demos below.

You can buy the Shake The Sheets demos at Bandcamp.

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