Mike Watt – hyphenated-man

January 01, 1970

(Clenched Wrench)




The mention of a concept album (or
“opera,” according to Watt) inspired by Renaissance Dutch paintings conjures
visions of a bloated, anachronistic monstrosity from the deepest circle of prog
rock’s netherworld. Fear not: with the man from Pedro you’re always guaranteed
something econo-sized, vital and compelling.


This is his third opera. While its predecessor, The Secondman’s Middle Stand,
blended Dante’s Divine Comedy with
Watt’s personal season in hell (a near-fatal illness), hyphenated-man draws largely on the nightmarish images of torment
and damnation in Hieronymus Bosch’s triptychs. Watt
echoes Bosch’s aesthetic, creating a unified artistic statement from numerous
fragments: 30 brief, fevered, Beefheart-worthy meditations on Bosch’s
“hyphenated-men,” in all their scatological and proto-surreal glory
(“man-shitting-man,” “head-and-feet-only-man,” “mouse-headed-man,” etc.).


Although these mostly hyperkinetic
pieces propel listeners through a landscape peopled by Bosch’s characters, the
record equally reflects Watt’s own
idiosyncratic vision. This isn’t just a concept album; it keeps the concept of
the album itself alive. Maybe that’s a lost cause, but Watt’s still fighting
the battle in his inimitable fashion, with memorable results.


DOWNLOAD: “blowing-it-out-both-ends-man,”
“boot-wearing-fish-man” WILSON NEATE


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