Friday, December 5, 2008

JW Farquhar-The Formal Female (1972)

"Woah. This is a weird one. A home-recorded psychedelic one-man-band "rock opera" from 1972, originally a rare privately pressed LP, now reissued on cd. Super freaky and moody and fuzzed out, with a messed-up "my woman done me wrong" vibe to it all. One JW Farquhar of Philadelphia sang and played all the instruments, though there are some other, presumably non-existent musicians credited on the sleeve... get a load of his supposed band, some of the best fake names ever: "Riffery Lowknut" on fender bass, "Slash Mullethead" on percussion, and "Callust Likfinker" on lead guitar! Steel Mammoth wishes they'd thought of those.
In the liner notes JW says that many of these songs "were written as an outcry against the materialistic nature of the woman during that time period". Maybe a little bit misogynistic? Well, apparently JW had just recently gone through a difficult divorce after having been married for 10 years, and was pretty down on women in general. Regardless of the merits of his bitter outlook, the bummed-out emotions expressed are certainly real. And feed into some genuinely twisted, trippy music.
The first two tracks, "The Formal Female" and "The Want Machine", are both multi-part suites, 11-12 minutes each. Groovy, laid back, lonely stuff, rife with FX and heavy doses of fuzz guitar (at one point, JW does to the traditional wedding march what Hendrix did to the "Star Spangled Banner"). "The Want Machine", with its funky guitar and guttural dialogue, almost sounds like the freakin' Jimmy Castor Bunch circa It's Just Begun, jivin' and acid-dosed (here, downer-dosed).
On "My Bundle Of Joy", JW's sad, melodic vocals are accompanied by what sounds like a primitive drum machine ticking away. It's really weird and lovely. Not sure what it reminds us of, maybe Vincent Gallo? Also, there's a good deal of woozy harmonica, or what could be Augustus Pablo style reggae melodica, all throughout the album. "Where Have You Been" and "Mansions" are equally odd and entrancing. Spacey, echoey, outsider rad dudeness! JW Farquhar is part George Brigman, part Dreamies, part Bobb Trimble, part Perry Leopold... like we said, a weird one. Not every Shadoks reissue is amazing, but sometimes when they find an obscure gem, like this, they really hit it out of the park, we're telling you. And as break-up records go, this one's unique."


Would you like to meet her?

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