Larry "Wild Man" Fischer was an eccentric street musician and a one-man band,
performing on the sidewalks of Hollywood's Sunset Strip, when
Frank Zappa discovered him and produced
a double album of his demented songwriting. Finally
released in april 1969 after much anticipation (the copyright says 1968),
An Evening With Wild Man Fischer (Reprise, 1969) remains a masterpiece of anti-folk
or sub-folk music, one in which the whim and the mood of the singer is greater
than the sum of its parts, one that borrows melodies from children's singalongs,
nursery rhymes, marching bands and traditional ballads, and turns them into
eclectic pop-art and unbridled stream of consciousness.
His clapping and his guitar playing (both as wild as his out-of-tune vocals)
helped create a jovial, hilarious atmosphere that transcended the depressing
autobiographical lyrics and stories.
The first side is an introduction of Fischer's life and art via
some of his certified childish refrains (Merry-Go-Round), some
monologues, live recordings from the street, and an essay on Fischer's
metaphysical significance (The Madness And Ecstasy).
Two sides collect Fischer's best songs, but still mixed with numerous verbal
detours, and the last side of the double album is a lengthy monologue by the
musician sounding like it is coming straight from an asylum
(crowned by Larry Under Pressure), plus the singalong The Circle.
Despite the originality of the album, the lunatic Fischer was taken to be a
bad (or good) Zappa joke, and quickly forgotten. When he was finally
rediscovered, he delivered another batch of oddly unique tunes,
Wildmania (Rhino, 1977).
Two inferior (albeit more musical) albums were released in the 1980s,
Pronounced Normal (Rhino, 1981) and
Nothing Scary (Rhino, 1984), both produced (and mostly composed) by
Barnes & Barnes.
Like the other great madman of rock music,
Captain Beefheart, Larry Fischer also decided
to retire from music and refuses to reveal his new address.
The Fischer King (Rhino) is an anthology.
Josh Rubin's documentary portrait, dErailRoaDed (2005), is the best
introduction to the wild man.
Fischer died in june 2011.
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