Saturday, January 27, 2007

Danny On the Edge

Daniel Johnston - Respect

This seems to be the album where the "charmingly eccentric" Daniel starts to morph into the "danger to himself and others" Daniel. You can sort of hear the wheels coming off when you listen closely enough. There are a few Neu-ish sound collages that appear to indicate a new-found fondness for smokin' dope. Some of the song snippets are damn near incoherent in their weirdness. Within the year, he'd be institutionalized for the first time.

But this tape also contains some achingly beautiful parts. Just as you think he's disappearing down the rat hole, he kicks you in the side of the head with a wonderful pop hook. It's those hooks that made his early music such a joy to find in those dark mid-80s years.

When the glossy mags write about Danny, they pay more attention to the illness than the talent, and that kind of sucks. It's the same thing with a lot of artists. Quit picking on him. Either like the songs, or don't.
RIP, by the way, to Stress Records, the source of this tape. They have lost the rights to Dan's catalogue, which they have faithfully kept in print for twenty years. Stress was the hippest of the hip in the psychedelic revival.