Wild Man Fischer

The Fischer King

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Either you get Wild Man Fischer or you don't. To some, he's a primitive musical genius, a man fighting mental illness as he creates his own individualistic performance art. To others, he remains Frank Zappa's cruelest musical joke. In 1968, Zappa helped Fischer record An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, an entire album of his demented songs, then packaged it with a cover that played off his mental quirks. (Fischer was posed holding a butcher knife to a woman's neck, wearing a whacked-out smile on his face.) He moved on from his lone record with Zappa to make a couple of stray singles and three more albums for the then-fledgling Rhino label, and that's what's collected here on this two-disc anthology. While the absence of the album produced by Zappa keeps this set from being definitive, these recordings -- for the most part unaccompanied by any instruments other than Fischer's oddball vocals -- are a combination of studio and live performances that capture his crazy-quilt conception of song structure. These little blasts of free-form energy make for a set that brings together 100 tracks of Larry Fischer's brand of left-of-center music. When he does work with a band, it's usually a train wreck. On "Young at Heart," he jumps time like a crack addict on bail. The backing group should be fined for ignoring the changes on "Handy Man," making Fischer sound like he's singing off meter when in fact he's the one who's following the correct arrangement -- well, sort of. But he throws his heart and soul into this stuff, and even if most of it seems like lunatic ravings that put him three tacos short of a combination plate, after repeated listenings it all starts to make its own internal sense, eventually qualifying for a unique style that is Wild Man Fischer's alone. But make no mistake: This is demented, independent music of the most off-the-wall sort. As such, by the end of the first disc the novelty starts to wear off and you've had a bellyful, unless you possess a truly perverse set of ears. But those willing to dive in deep will find a treasure trove of noises by a man who was compelled to make the music he made, on the street if necessary, but always from the heart with a truly off-kilter perspective and energy. Whatever spoken word or a cappella music you might have in your collection, you don't have anything that sounds like this.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:15
2
1:00
3 3:22
4 1:11
5 0:36
6 0:33
7
1:39
8
0:35
9 1:02
10 1:24
11
1:57
12 2:51
13
2:50
14
2:12
15
1:12
16 1:21
17
1:49
18 1:41
19 0:40
20 1:39
21 1:38
22
9:20
23 2:59
24 1:53
25 2:25
26 0:36
27 3:05
28
0:48
29 0:47
30 1:54
31 0:35
32 0:31
33 2:38
34 2:38
35
1:01
36 0:47
37 2:17
38
2:19
39 0:12
40 2:20
41 0:24
42 1:12
43 1:07
44 3:21
45 1:06
46
0:28
47
0:07

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:07
2
feat: Dr. Demento
1:08
3
10:16
4
0:27
5
1:12
6
2:30
7
2:18
8
0:34
9 1:03
10 1:53
11 1:00
12 1:15
13
1:17
14 1:03
15 0:48
16 1:22
17 1:15
18 2:24
19 0:45
20 0:36
21
1:12
22
1:21
23
1:35
24 0:43
25 1:57
26 3:34
27 0:54
28 1:30
29 1:45
30 0:46
31 0:36
32 0:54
33
1:39
34 1:45
35 1:17
36 0:34
37 1:40
38 0:34
39 0:58
40 4:20
41
42
1:08
43
0:42
44
0:08
45
1:08
46
1:22
47
0:31
48
2:39
49
0:29
50
2:42
51
1:18
52
0:59
53
0:10
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