Wild Man Fischer

Pronounced Normal

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This is a masterpiece in its own category, and possibly the best album recorded by anyone during the 1980s. After Larry Fischer's mother had him committed to a mental institution for singing in his room, the doctors "pronounced" him "normal" and released him. The whole idea of being certifiably sane or otherwise is something each person needs to confront, and Pronounced Normal might just be the perfect tool for the job. What makes this vastly superior to his 1977 Rhino LP Wildmania is the inspired instrumentation and overall creative production provided by the team of Barnes & Barnes. Fat beats and syntho-tones make the title track a delightful scream-along challenge to the entire American Psychiatric Association. "Don't Be a Singer" is a charming example of Fischer's consuming distrust of all who work in the entertainment industry. "It's Nice to Have Things" constitutes Fischer's debut as a jazz singer! Amazing lyrics listing marketable commodities are intoned with a wonderfully outrageous nonchalance, while a very cool rhythm section walks in 4/4 and the atmosphere is charged with carefully placed skronks from a saxophone. "Talking," an electronically addled commentary upon humanity's inability to stop yammering, resonates strongly in today's world so full of cell phones. Another component in Fischer's private/public universe is the question of whether or not he's "bigger than the Beatles." His rendition of "Yesterday" has got to be the most disturbingly tragic cover of this pop tune ever recorded. "Fish Heads" might actually top the original version for sheer substance and texture. "Frank" is a love/hate letter to Frank Zappa, very bitter and yet suffused with a permanently injured love. After all, if it wasn't for "Frank," most people might never have heard Fischer. "It's a Money World" allows the Wild Man to rage against a nonsensical economic landscape, while a massively layered sound collage entitled "The Bouillabaisse" represents his highest level of artistic achievement. And lest this be forgotten: Fischer's version of Brian Wilson's "In My Room" would be deeply moving even if no one knew what happened to him long ago when he dared to sing his own kinds of songs in his room. This is the most honest singer in the world. Everybody else is fakin' it.

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