Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Jon Wayne - Texas Funeral

Jon Wayne
Texas Funeral

Released 1985 on Fistpuppet/Cargo
Reviewed by Lugia, 24/01/2004ce

Jon Wayne: "Texas Funeral"
Fistpuppet/Cargo FIST 001, recorded and originally released on Hybrid in 1985, reissued on CD as here in 1993 w/ extra tracks

1) But I've Got Texas
2) Texas Funeral
3) Mr. Egyptian
4) Texas Cyclone
5) Texas Jailcell
6) Workin' Man Blues
7) Shades
8) Texas Wine
9) Is That Justice?
10) Texas Polka
11) You and the Kitten
12) Apple Schnapps
13) Truckin'
14) One Hundred and Fifty-one Owl Caricatures
15) Texas Studio

"Mister engineer...faders up!"

I really waffled over reviewing this. Not because of the amazing-yet-horrific quality of the music, but because it's viral. It infects people. Before listening to this, people are as they are. But after exposure to this music, they start repeating lyric fragments, and going "Tek-suss". I know this because I've seen it happen over the years, again and again. I even managed to infect a few of Karlheinz Stockhausen's players by accident after giving one of his people a copy of this thing on a mixtape; I'm sitting in Bistro La Strada in Kürten, and one of them comes up with this insane grin and goes "Tek-suss". It's dangerous, I tell you.

What this is is a hideous, drunken, sloppy mess that grafts the musicality of Merle Haggard etc onto a very loose/chaotic California punk sound. If that sounds like a bad combination...you're right. It is. But it's the sort of 'bad' that makes movies like "Plan 9 from Outer Space" so fascinating. This is the sound of country music going horribly wrong. Horribly. Hilariously and gleefully horribly.

Jon Wayne is actually a group, but is also the lead singer, who constantly sounds like he's singing thru a Shure SM57 that spent a week in a stale pitcher of Miller High Life. The rest of the band creates this vaguely countrified...sound...behind this. There is alcohol involved in this sound, also. Lots of it. In fact, the CD version of this seems to be in chronological order across a single evening's session, as the tracks get more and more incoherent as they go along, and the offside at the beginning of one track ("...would somebody go to th' liquor store?") seems to indicate why.

There is a lot on here about Texas, as a glance at the track titles will show. But in fact, Jon Wayne is from Fresno. He moved there from Texas because he heard Merle Haggard lived there. Mm-hmm. And the landscape Jon Wayne occupies definitely has neither Texas nor Merle Haggard to it. Instead, there's a lot of politically-incorrect rambling about foreign gas station attendants, indians, police, matrimony, death, alcohol, the joys of DWI, deviant sexual practices, and on and on and on.

Now, you're wondering...what's so ecstatically wild about THAT!? Right? Well, lemme tell you...this thing is INSANE. It's like a bad fuckup trainwreck between the Shaggs, Butthole Surfers, some drunk band from the chickenwire C&W circuit, The Birthday Party, "Elvis Having Fun On Stage", numerous bad jokes, The Godz, Buck Owens' "Bakersfield sound" and California in general. The results are a sloppy, drunken, distorted, gleefully fucko mess that usually has people laughing hysterically along with the whole spew of noise, out of tune-ness, frizzy vocal, incompetent drumming, and an attitude that's so far out in punkdom leftfield that it's gone past the bleachers, and out into the frickin' parking lot!

Attempting to describe the tracks is nearly impossible. I'm not kidding. I could try going into a lot of musical detail, but it would be totally fucking pointless here, as some of this teeters on the cusp of not being music at all! But it IS amazing...your mind will totally implode at the sound of the band playing against a piano a whole quarter-tone off on "You and the Kitten". You will be in awe at a version of Merle Haggard's "Working Man's Blues" that bears nearly NO resemblance to not only the original song, but to anything resembling a song AT ALL. You will swear that "Texas Polka" is actually some Japanese noise band trying to play country hoedown music. Your jaw will drop as you hear the engineer ACTUALLY QUIT at the end of one of the tracks, captured on one of what had to be a number of open mikes laying about whatever shitpile this was recorded in. You will not be able to follow any sort of rhythm at all at the beginning of "Shades"...just like the band itself!

...and on and on it will go if you get your hands on this thing. Like "Videodrome", it causes permanent changes in anyone who listens to it, and then you'll go out and infect some other poor bastard with this, and so on, and so on, and so on...

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