Wild Man Fischer

Lost and Found Pep

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Larry "Wild Man" Fischer's recordings fall into several chronological categories. An Evening with Wild Man Fischer was the double LP produced by Frank Zappa in 1968. Wildmania appeared nine years later on the newly established Rhino record label. Pronounced Normal and Nothing Scary were lovingly assembled by Barnes & Barnes and released on Rhino during the '80s. All three Rhino albums were compiled on The Fischer King, a double CD offered as a limited-edition Rhino Handmade double-disc set in 1999, and Collector's Choice reissued the ‘80s albums in 2006 and 2007. Brought out in 2008, Lost and Found Pep would be the last Wild Man Fischer album released during his lifetime, for this unparalleled artist succumbed to heart disease in June 2011. Lost and Found Pep consists of fragmentary material which made its first appearance on The Fischer King set.

This curious little appendix contains only a little more than 20 minutes of music and spoken word. It's worth having just for Fischer's personalized readings of Ricky Nelson's "Teenage Idol" and the Bob Merrill/Jule Styne anthem "People," which he caps with a raggedly triumphant flourish that nobody else could have pulled off. There are alternate takes of "I Got a Camera" and "Scotty's Got a Cake"; the comic book-inspired “Flaming Carrot Theme Song” and a wry apology to Frank Zappa. The version of "I'm a Christmas Tree" included here is a duet with Dr. Demento. The other duet, "It's a Hard Business," features Rosemary Clooney who befriended Fischer after hearing his soul-baring masterpiece "Oh God, Please Send Me a Kid (I Can Buy It a Doughnut Every Day)." For years, Clooney made a point of calling Larry on December 24 and singing "White Christmas" to him over the phone.

"Do the Salvo" (the word refers to a vocal or ballistic outburst) is one of Fischer's many dance tunes, which include "Merry Go Round," "The Rocket Rock," "The Taster," "Do the Wildman," and "The Omar Walk." The word "Pep" carried special significance throughout his difficult life, as he used it to describe the driven intensity that made him funny, brilliant, outrageous, endearing, and difficult. Beginning in 2004, Fischer was given medications which stabilized his nervous system but sheared away the Pep, effectively terminating his career as a vocalist.

In a truly just and balanced society, Wild Man Fischer would have been recognized as an irreplaceable natural/unnatural resource, and one can only imagine what would have happened had he been given the kind of consistent support and artistic leeway that Norman Granz granted to Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. We'll never get to hear Fischer singing Cole Porter or Rodgers & Hart. Nor did anyone ever think to initiate a Wild Man Fischer tribute to his early inspiration, Paul Anka. What does exist as his legacy should be treasured and respectfully studied with care, for this individual embodied a greater spectrum of human sensibilities than most people would ever be willing or able to express. For that he should be honored and revered.

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