Wild Man Fischer
Pronounced Normal (Collectors' Choice)
Between his highly unorthodox singing and the emotional heft of celebrating art so clearly tied to mental illness, Larry "Wild Man" Fischer is anything but easy listening. Once championed by Solomon Burke and Frank Zappa, Fischer's vocal approach centers on ear-splitting, high-pitched ululations (often sung a cappella) that would've made Screamin' Jay Hawkins keep screamin'. Zappa produced 1968's forever-out-of-print An Evening With Wild Man Fischer, but a violent row over money severed that relationship. Pronounced Normal emerged from Fischer's minor Eighties resurgence on then-nascent Rhino Records, and though not as jarringly revelatory as An Evening With, its musical accompanists Barnes & Barnes of "Fish Heads" fame prove kindred spirits, capturing the rich human essence of Fischer's paranoia without turning it into a joke. The tribal-thumping title track turns sanity into a pathology all its own, "Frank" excoriates its namesake via a rhyming laundry list of perceived slights, and "The Mope, Part 2" takes would-be novelty dance numbers to a place Chubby Checker never dreamed of. Fischer's cover of "Yesterday" isn't exactly accomplished, but a more painstakingly realized summation of the song's lyrical intent is hard to imagine. Though served against a New Wave-flavored sound-scape here, Fischer's unrestrained, free-roaming radicalism remains timeless.