Wesley Willis

Double Door

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The anti-legend that was Wesley Willis has already had his tragic-comic story chronicled extensively elsewhere, but any review of his amazingly idiosyncratic albums requires a quick retelling for the unprepared first timer. Essentially a diagnosed schizophrenic casualty turned lauded alt-rock curiosity, Willis parlayed his repetitive lyrics (covering every minute detail of his daily wanderings) and usually the same song (programmed into his Casio keyboard and replayed at varying speeds and keys) into well over 50 albums that we know of, since his early days saw any number of self-made releases that render an official count almost hopeless. Regardless, each and every Willis album, like every one of his songs is, in a way, a fascinating experience, and 1994's Double Door (named after one of his favorite Chicago concert venues and regular haunts) is certainly no exception. In song after repetitive song, restaurants and cars, casual acquaintances ("Caryn Shaffer"), assorted celebrities ("Bill Clinton"), and countless bands ("the Flaming Lips," "the Rolling Stones," etc.) are called out by Willis. Whether he "loves them like a milkshake and a magic kiss," thinks they "whipped a pony's ass with a belt," or are simply his "friend to the end," all are paid grateful tribute in songs that are at once positively hilarious, and, ultimately, quite touching. May he rest in peace: Rock over London, rock on Chicago!