Vague – Collage

1990 (no label)
Wheaton, Illinois, USA

John Thompson – Lead vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars
Rob Anstee – Keyboards, sampling, acoustic piano
Joe Disanto – Bass
John Mezzano – Drums
Jen Williamson – Backing vocals
Michelle Thomason – Backing vocals

Rick Elias – Acoustic guitar, e-bow
Chris Knight – Harmonica, camera

Produced by Rick Elias and Dave Jahnsen

Side 1

  1. In My Dreams
  2. One Raindrop
  3. It’s Real
  4. Collage

Side 2:

  1. Will U Stay
  2. The Words
  3. I’m Trying
  4. Swing Low

The final demo from the band that went on to become The Wayside. It turns out this one was a split release in some ways. Side 1 was the full band called Vague doing full band music, while side 2 was actually John and Michelle doing acoustic duo music as “The Limb.” Side 1 sees the band drifting more towards the alternative / Americana sound they became known for as The Wayside. Almost gone are any forays into heavier guitar-based alternative rock that happened occasionally on past demos (“Collage” has some aggressive distorted guitars here and there). I liked those songs on past demos, but the cohesiveness on this demo and future recordings works even better to be honest. Side 2 is acoustic folk music for all 4 songs – which sounds like a strange shift in style if you thought (like I did at first) that The Limb was some inside band joke or something. But it’s still the same songwriting core of Vague, and worth it just to get the groovy acoustic cover of “Swing Low.”

Vague – Rough Mix Demo

Rough Mix Demo
1990 (no label)

  1. Close My Eyes [rough mix]
  2. 2 Lonely People [very rough mix]
  3. Will You Stay [acoustic snatch mix]

My guess is that this is a collection of songs for the same New Talent Showcase at Cornerstone that other bands were making tapes for as well. Vague is known for being the band that evolved into The Wayside. “Close My Eyes” and “2 Lonely People” are basically just rougher mixes of the same songs that later appeared on A Glimpse of Deep Symbolism. The song “Will You Stay” is a slightly different version of the song that appeared on Collage. I don’t know if it was planned for A Glimpse of Deep Symbolism and then dropped or what. Vague was a bit more Alternative rock than The Wayside, but still very good at it.

Vague – A Glimpse of Deep Symbolism

A Glimpse of Deep Symbolism
1990 (no label)
Wheaton, Illinois, USA

John Thompson – Vocals, guitars
Jen Williamson – Backing vocals, lead vocals
Michelle Thomason – Backing vocals
Rob Anstee – Keyboards
Joe Disanto – Bass, hair
John Buzzard Mezzano – Drums
Gary Smith – Sax

Randy Kerkman – Lead guitar on “2 Lonely People,” Rhythm guitar and bass on “Close My Eyes,” and acoustic on “Were You There,”
Bruce Franklin – Lead guitar on “Close My Eyes”

  1. 2 Lonely People
  2. Close My Eyes
  3. If You Would
  4. Were You There

Vague was an early band led by John J. Thompson (and maybe Michele as well? Is Thomason a typo or maiden name?) of True Tunes fame before they changed to The Wayside (Ron and John were both in The Wayside later on as well). While some songs like “2 Lonely People” do demonstrate the Americana Rock later perfected in The Wayside, there is also a louder alternative rock guitar rocker moment with “Close My Eyes.” Overall, this demo showcases a good range of alternative music in only four songs. There were also some interesting guests on this album – Bruce Franklin of Trouble and Randy Kerkman of Mission of Mercy/Yonderboy.