Review Summary: In the year of 1968, have I made a mistake?
”The Madness & Ecstasy – An Evening With Wild Man Fischer”
To say the late Larry Wayne “Wild Man” Fischer is the great-grandaddy of outsider music is quite the stretch. For a matter of fact, Fischer was the living, breathing definition of an outsider. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and bipolar, Fischer was institutionalized at 16 for attacking his mother with a knife. Escaping from the hospital later on, Fischer was now homeless and wandering the streets of Los Angeles, singing his songs a capella for just 10¢
. It’s a very audacious thing to state, but it can be said that Fischer’s debut album An Evening With Wild Man Fischer
, is a seminal release not only in the outsider canon, but in music in general. Featuring nearly ninety minutes of mostly sparse, hollow compositions that put Trout Mask Replica to shame, An Evening
is the type of album Captain Beefheart wishes he could’ve created – for better or worse. Just looking at the cover exhibits Fischer’s fragile mental state: a disoriented Fischer holding a knife to a cardboard cut-out of an old woman, making light of the past incident with his mother.
From the very start of the album and opening track ”Merry-Go-Round”
, it is very, very clear that Fischer’s songwriting is abstract and just plain bizarre. The track itself is Fischer himself and barely any instrumentation accompanying him – and that is quite the case for most of the tracks on the album. Most of the duration of the album consists of tracks like Merry-Go-Round
(minimal compositions that are dominated by vocals), raving mad a capella rants about life, daily encounters, and other events, and the album highlight ”Circle”
. A three-minute psychedelic rant that features Frank Zappa on guitar, it far exceeds the other compositions on the album just for Zappa’s work – who also played on ”The Taster”
, and was the producer of the album. The overall consistency of An Evening With Wild Man Fischer
is varied, as a decent half of the album is simply just Fischer’s demented spoken word pieces, a notable one being the poetry piece ”The Madness & Ecstasy”
, a delusional tale of whatever Fischer fantasized about, whether it be of stardom or women.
A seminal piece of outsider music, An Evening With Wild Man Fischer
is the eighty-two minute document of a paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar disorder putting his insane minimalistic songs onto tape with little-to-no accompaniment whatsoever. Whether some see it as just a demented man ranting or as a work of genius by a misunderstood individual, Wild Man Fischer put onto tape what can be considered greatly important to music in general with An Evening With Wild Man Fischer