21
Oct 03

Most comedy records are appalling

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Most comedy records are appalling as music, even if they are funny, which they usually aren’t. That’s why I have to recommend the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz (warning: I suspect he’s not a real Reverend). He’s maybe the funniest lyricist I’ve ever heard, and damn strong musically, in a style closest to the country era of Jerry Lee Lewis, with the occasional rocking out on his piano (he plays very well) or the odd bluesier number. I first heard his rock ‘n’ roll ode to a female midget professional wrestler, Teenie Weenie Meanie, which instantly became my favourite song on that subject, and sought more out, and was astonished to find that pretty much all the rest of his stuff was as good.

His themes are many of the traditional territories of country music, but not quite handled the usual way, in that we don’t normally get aliens, hermaphrodites or lesbians in there with the trucks and bars and heartache. His ‘it was tough growing up’ number is called Daddy Was A Sensitive Man and is about living among rednecks with a liberal veggie father who runs a futon shop. Inbred features his plans to marry his 13 year old sister. His big religious song is Butt For The Grace, where his uncle gets a rash resembling Jesus on his arse. Freeway To Stairbird is one of the great pastiches at first, though it’s mostly about Southern audiences of limited range (when he doesn’t get an encore he shouts “last night your little sister wanted more”). 4th Wife Blues is a brilliant heartbreak song riffing on numbers, with perhaps his best piano playing. You can make up your own accounts for Mennonite Surf Party, Grandma Vs The Crusher and Right Wing Round-Up – they’re at least as good as you can imagine. The live stuff is best, and the only weaker material I’ve heard is the odd thing resembling a children’s story, but these are rare. I can’t imagine anyone listening to him without having fun.

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