After Barnes & Barnes produced Wild Man Fischer's 1981 album Pronounced Normal, Bill Mumy (aka Art Barnes) said they felt as though they had "given Larry what he always claimed to want: a great record that told the tale of the inner spirit without humiliating him." If Pronounced Normal (which Mumy called "one of the great unheard records of all time") succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams, Nothing Scary is without question its equal and worthy sequel. If the title track on Pronounced Normal conveyed some measure of Fischer's lifelong ordeal, "Derailroaded" grinds the message home with rhythmic precision, picking up exactly where Pronounced Normal left off. What makes Nothing Scary so wonderful is the fact that the producer finally realized that the singer hated to perform inside of a recording studio. So they took themselves out to a city park, where Fischer was able to breathe fresh air and improvise without any restraints, screaming joyously into a hand-held portable recording apparatus. Once these outbursts were brought back to the studio and mixed with other sounds, including a bit of electronic keyboard backing, the results were delightful and very endearing. The entire album is a weave of studio and remote recordings, echoing in all directions with the unmistakable mystery and cheerfully tragic honesty of Larry Fischer's private/public universe. Also mingled into the mix are little snippets from messages Fischer left on various answering machines during the early '80s. Sometimes his powerful voice would overload both the telephone and the cassette tape on the answering machine, merrily distorting the mix even further. "Music Business Shark" began as a phone message, then mutated into a composite vision of the singer being pursued by the crooked businessman. The jagged way in which he screams the word "shark" at the end of this song is splendidly jarring, comparable to the full-force scream technique he employed on the song "I Light the Pilot" back in 1977 on the album Wildmania. Remember that this man's vocal style was perfected in the privacy of his room many years ago, where a song emitted as loud as humanly possible would cause the walls to vibrate with a joyous immediacy. But in 1983 and 1984 it was the ambience of the out-of-doors that really brought out the best in Fischer. He is said to have devised ten outstanding songs during one day's visit to the park. When they chanced upon a big drainage tunnel, Fischer went deep into its darkest recesses and sang a song about hiding from the atom bomb, calling out at the top of his lungs, asking for peace and pleading for an end to war. A different song of comparable intensity is "Oh God Please Send Me a Kid (I Can Buy It a Doughnut Every Day)." There's something so authentic about Fischer that even his wildest flights of imagination have more to do with reality than most of what passes for culture in America today. As Bill Mumy proclaimed, this album is "better than anything on television." It's entirely possible that Wild Man Fischer is a living embodiment of the conscience everyone wishes they still had.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf