GETTING MORE TALE #818: Alive and Wandering through the memorabilia bin with Gypsy Jayne
I wouldn’t have heard of Gypsy Jayne if not for Raw M.E.A.T. Volume 1, specifically. That compilation of underground bands from Ontario included one called “Wildside” with a killer, pro-level track called “Ready, Willing & Able”. They had a guitarist, Johannes Linstead, that could really wail. Their sleazy rock vibe had more in common with Roth-era Van Halen than current bands.
The year after, M.E.A.T magazine informed us that Wildside were now Gypsy Jayne and had a demo tape called Alive and Wandering for sale. This demo tape, good enough to be a major release EP, showed Gypsy Jayne had world class songs: Seven tracks including one classical guitar instrumental as good as anything coming out of California in the summer of ’92. I’m fortunate enough to know that, since I ordered the tape upon the magazine’s recommendation.
On August 10 of 1992, guitarist Johannes Linstead wrote me a thank-you note, packed up my tape and mailed it from Oakville, Ontario. A few days later it arrived here in Kitchener, and I was seriously impressed upon first listen. I played it a couple times in quick succession. Gypsy Jayne were exactly what I wanted to hear out of a new band in 1992. No grunge, no dark depressions, just grooves and riffs and hooks and incredibly solid performances. Even in the present, I still ranked their demo at 4/5 stars when it came up for review.
I kept just about everything I ever got in the mail from a rock band. While searching for memorabilia, I found the letter from Linstead still inside the original mailer for the Gypsy Jayne cassette.
“Dear Mike, glad to see you support original metal.” If you get a chance, we’d appreciate comments you might have on our music or musicianship.” Signed, Johanne Linstead. Not only could the guy play guitar, but his penmanship was impeccable. Of course I wrote him back immediately. I believe the words I used regarding the musicianship were “blown away”. Johannes never wrote back again but I was obviously happy to have received his note in the first place.
Just recently, I received two separate inquiries about Gypsy Jayne in one week. Johannes Linstead is now an established world class flamenco guitarist. But I hope he hasn’t forgotten his metal roots. Perhaps Gypsy Jayne is primitive compared to music he performs today, but it is certainly an accomplished recording for its genre. Nothing to be ashamed of, surely. There is a demand for a Gypsy Jayne CD reissue. My old cassette is barely listenable and the only reason to listen is the incredible music.
It’s very pleasing to hear from fellow Gypsy Jayne fans, so if you have heard this band and also wish for a CD reissue, leave a comment below! Songs like these should be available for anyone who likes classic rock to buy and enjoy. They deserve to be recorded in rock history as one of the great “shoulda-woulda-coulda” stories of the Canadian 1990s.