The Wesley Willis Fiasco

The Wesley Willis Fiasco

Live EP

Cornerstone RAS

As Willis would phrase it: the next band that I am going to review which is called W.W.F.

I’ve always maintained that people who are deemed “crazy” or “psychopathic” by society all have some sort of vision or door to a truth or set of truths that the rest of society can not understand. In this case, Wesley Willis, diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, manages to bring us some of the most mind-blowing rock n’ roll out there. At 6’4″ and 300 some-odd pounds, Wesley Willis towers over us in more than one sense.

This EP of rap-metal interspersed with Willis’ trademark use of big business slogans (not to mention excerpts from The Clash and The Police) is by no means confined to the usual size of an EP, which leaves the listener unfulfilled and wanting for more. Instead, the recording, which is as massive as Willis himself, has the effect of drawing you to the stereo so you can start the EP over again. And over again. This is one bus ride you won’t want to end.

As for the rest of the band, the Fiasco gives Willis a backing that works well, even though it admittedly falls short of his solo work. The perk that the band brings is that it allows for more genre diversity than Willis achieves with his Casio keyboard. For example, “She Loves Me Truly” has an emo sound, while “I’m Going to Kill You” has a down-tempo ska sound, but don’t worry, the latter is “just a rock song. That’s all.” The hidden track (a concept to which I am vehemently opposed, and for which you have to wait through over five minutes of silence) consists of the Fiasco playing the music for Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” and Willis singing “The Bar is Closed.”

The manner in which Willis bluntly tells his stories, along with the characteristic style of his rapping, provides the ingredients that make this EP something you won’t find anywhere else, and since this is only the second recording of the Wesley Willis Fiasco (compared to more than 40 solo recordings), it is a must-have! Willis is, by far, the most ingenious lyricist I’ve ever heard. He uses techniques of defamiliarization as well as shock tactics to bring a bouquet of brilliant lines. This music is not that wave of the future; it won’t be the original in a trend of new radio music. It is a brand of sound that no one has ever achieved. No one will ever be capable of creating what Wesley Willis has made. A composer and alum of the Eastman School of Music attempted to describe Willis as “pure genius.” That pretty much sums it up. Skeptics will knock Willis for the simplicity of his songs, but anyone who has any real appreciation for rock will see the perfect beauty (albeit unique and unusual) that Willis brings to the table.

This collection provides a eulogy for the late Fiasco guitar player Pat Barnard, as well as a history lesson about Willis’ work and some of the negative reviews it has received. Whatever you’re listening for, whether it’s a curious sampling of a new sound you’ve never heard before or a loyal commitment to your favorite artist, you will have to agree that this album “whoops a horse’s ass.”

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