Foster Wiley - The Music

The Best of Mr. TateR The Greatest Music Maker Alive

     After I had moved away from Mississippi, I still tried to stay in touch with Mr. Tater. I had always had it in the back of my mind to create a "Best-Of" album for him, because when I produced his albums, I would include EVERYTHING he recorded. Several people suggested that we should only include the hits, but I thought all of his work was interesting and should be released (including crazy-long and hypnotic 15 minute solo pieces). For some people, this made his work almost unlistenable, and for other people, it was like being dropped into the middle of the avant garde. In any case, when I heard that his health was getting bad, along with collecting money and supplies from his fans and friends from around the world, I compiled this best-of album so that he could have something to sell when he performed. The Music Maker Relief Foundation of Hillsborough, North Carolina supplied the discs, sleeves, title stamps, and duplication machine. I am grateful to them and grateful that Mr Tater got to have a new cd to sell, which always got him so excited. 

     Be sure to listen to the 2-part interview, it's always great to hear his speaking voice. Years later, I still sometimes find myself suddenly understanding something that had previously been a mystery!

Take a Walk in the park with mr. tater

     This is the final album I recorded with Mr. Tater, and the only album we ever made together that was recorded in a more typical way, with a day set aside and a set group of musicians dedicated to recording an album with him.  The album art is by Brad Porter, a great local drummer and a friend of Tater's.  I was very surprised and pleased by the cover he designed, inspired by the title.  I like how Mr. Tater seems friendly and kind in the drawing, which he really was in real life.  Bill Abel played string instruments, and Mary Jane (who can be heard saying "Okay" at the beginning of her tribute song) brightened the recording session with her spirit.   Multi-Instrumentalist Paul Morelli played wind instruments, and I monkeyed around as usual.  The album's cover folded out to be a poster, and the package included a DVD of the great "Music Maker" documentary, which you can now view online here.

check it in check it out!

     This is the first compilation album that Tater produced.  From about 2004 - 2007, Mr. Tater was known as the "Studio Manager" of Delta Recording Service in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  He would visit and hang out in the control booth during tracking.  Eventually, he would sit in with the bands and they would inevitably cut some of the most exciting material of their project with Mr. Tater.  Some of these bands have been lost to memory. However, fans of Tater's work owe a great debt to these scores of musicians who took the time to let Tater lead them.

that bullshit's got to go! volume 1 The story of foster wiley

     Mr. Tater hung out at Delta Recording Service in Clarksdale, Mississippi, during almost every recording session. When he was listed as "Studio Manager" on the Elvis Costello record we worked on, the title stuck. Tater would encourage and befriend everyone who was working on their records, and there would always come that moment when he was in the tracking room, leading the visiting band in a song. I knew what to do when this happened; pop a fresh tape in and hit record as fast as I could. Eventually, we would compile enough songs to make a record, but during this time period I realized we had enough to make a double-album! 

     There's a lot to take note of on this album, but one thing that always impressed me was that you could give Tater an instrument like a banjo or mandolin (which he had never played before) and he could still make it sound very similar to when he played guitar. I think this had to do with his strumming patterns, which really drove his solo pieces.  Be sure to also check out his piano debut on "I'm A Music Man", which clocks in at over 8 minutes long! 

that bullshit's got to go! volume 2 The tater speaks his mind

     It's incredible to think he recorded a 14+ minute long solo protest song against the war that was happening at the time!

electric tater

     This is the first album Tater recorded at Delta Recording Service, at the original location in the old WROX building on Delta Avenue.