Luther Russell cheerfully acknowledges that to even call his fan base a cult following is overstating things a bit. But the Freewheelers alumnus -- who's also worked with Robyn Hitchcock and with Big Star's Jody Stephens in Those Pretty Wrongs -- is happy to have collected nearly three decades of work into the forthcoming Selective Memories: An Anthology, an illuminating two-disc compendium that has plenty of surprises.
Among those are early unreleased tracks recorded with the Bootheels, a late '80s band that included Jakob Dylan and Tobi Miller just before they started the Wallflowers, is "Interstate 68 Blues," premiering exclusively below. "We were together the better part of a year," the Los Angeles-based Russell, who was 17 when the Bootheels formed, tells Billboard. "We did a few shows, places like the Troubadour and Madame Wongs, back when you had to pay to play. I think we had a demo tape of, like, 12 songs, and there are a lot of rehearsal tapes that have tons of other tunes. I was the lead singer and wrote most of the songs, but we co-wrote some things. We actually started to get quite good. I think we were better than we thought we were. I was listening back to these tapes and it was pretty good. Hell, I would've signed us."