Sunday, November 12, 2006


Exploiting the Insane Is Not Very Nice

An Evening With Wild Man Fischer

Frank Zappa was behind this exploitative slab of double vinyl. He became aware of WMF through his busking and bizarre behavior in Hollywood, and signed him to his new Bizarre label as a flagship act. In a blatant "fuck you" to the hand that fed him, he made a double-album debut with only two actual songs on it, the rest being an audio verite look at the life of a schizophrenic street person c.1968.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. One is as a social statement. Given that Frank was also releasing stuff by Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley on the label, I'm guessing that this was his intent. And as a social statement, letting the thing unfold unscripted makes a lot of sense. In this positive sense, it is a true documentary of mental illness up there with One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest or The Bell Jar.

The other way to look at this is as pure exploitation of a delusional individual. By turning Larry into Wild Man Fischer, Famous Recording Artist, Frank and his team almost certainly exacerbated his delusional behaviors. I think a lot of this happens in the music industry, and in arts in general. It's not very nice.

I got to thinking about this while watching the documentary about Daniel Johnston, a newer and more talented WMF. Like Larry, Daniel is clearly schizophrenic. And also like Larry, his life went a bit off the rails when people tried to make him an outsider star.

I didn't have the energy to type in 35 track names. If you care about that stuff, you'll find them here:

Very interesting record. It got the typical "early" zappa sound of e.g. lumpy gravy and 200 motels. well, guess it's also because of the percussion-combo.
it sure is explotative, but on the other hand: maybe zappa really believed in that kind of distortive "message".

cheers, joshu
from marcus
wild man rules!
that's all...

The wildman is great! I got this on vinyl original pressing in mint condition! I bought it 2nd hand
when I was 16 years old and a complete zappafreak.
I hope more people will discover Larry!
I have been looking for a record with Smegma and wildman, have you any knowlegde whre to find it?
The sentiment you conveyed about Zappa's treatment of Fischer echoes what Don Van Vleit thought of his concept of Trout mask Replica.
He felt that Zappa was unfairly portraying him as an eccentric weirdo and that the music wasn't an honest depiction of their style.
The Fischer album is a fascinating document anyway, but I agree with you on the overexploitation aspect of it.
And don't even get me started about Wesley Willis!

the documentary about Wildman Fischer
We used to listen to this on a daily basis in our sixth-form annexe at my school in Bristol, England back in the early 70s. A guy called Pete Sas brought it in and it never seemed to leave the turntable. I have never heard it since,until now. Jennifer Jones, however, stuck in my head for some reason. Thank you for sharing it and bringing some kind of reasoning to why it all happened !!



Your blog is by far the best for diversity and sheer honesty about the music.
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