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Various Artists - The Appeal of Discarded Orthodoxy: A Tribute to David E. Williams

It's a damn shame that David E. Williams isn't more popular than he already is, though titling tracks (and these are just a handful from this tribute) 'Seizure Dream Believer', 'Severed Hand Holding Daisies', 'Stillborn', and 'Sarah's Booted Boy' may be too much for the lily-livered listener. Thankfully the assorted groups and individuals that feature on The Appeal of Discarded Orthodoxy don't flinch from the works of David E. Williams. And why should they?

Since the arrival of the Pseudo Erotica EP way back in 1988 David E. Williams has crafted perverse and twisted lyrics delivered in his trademark creaking mordant tones over pleasing and intricate arrangements centred around his considerable skill on the piano and keyboards. And that's undoubtedly what makes this tribute CD worthwhile. The many and varied contributors, drawn from the folk and noise underground, are forced to take his arrangements into their own styles. Okay, some such as Rome, Dogs Hate Monet, Spiritual Front and Division S come over remarkably close to the Williams originals but others stray into their own territory. Naevus with Rose McDowall offer a rich folk setting of 'Restraining Order / Fish Heads and Olives', with Rose, once again, looking "for a good man to murder me". Lloyd James, the Naevus singer, provides a deft acoustic rendition of 'Little Sap and Varicose'. Naevus are adept at reworking Williams's songs having previously recorded 'Less Than Queer' and enlisting Williams as guest keyboardist on previous albums. You gotta hear Changes, the folk duo who are more accustomed to singing heroic and apocalyptic ballads, bragging about their sexual conquests on 'Got Too Many Women'. Ernte reappear with a gentle reading of 'I Have Forgotten How To Love You', a German language version of the title track of the Williams album they released on their Cthulhu label. Both The Linbergh Baby and Myoclonic Jerks transform Williams songs into prime slices of Americana. 'Gentleman Farmer Slips Away' from The Linbergh Baby is a rich dark acoustic strum with a croaking drawl, reminiscent of Michael Gira, while the primitive Americana of Myoclonic Jerks is just right for the religious imagery and peculiar take on the conception of Christ on 'Severed Hand Holding Daisies'. Williams longtime collaborator Jerome Deppe strikes out on his own with an impressive take on 'Taxidermy Tragedy', his strong vocal nestling over 12-string guitar and trumpet score. Thomas Nöla et son Orchestre adds his surreal twilight touch to 'Sandra Lindsey'. Second Amendment go all symphonic martial on the dubious 'Wotan Rains on a Plutocrat Parade' with the booming voice of English folk singer Andrew King.

The Appeal of Discarded Orthodoxy is let down somewhat by the number of OEC acts, many of whom's contributions are ill-fitting, and, at times, like some sort of cabaret. Circus Joy and David Taleno offer quite rudimentary folk takes and some of the noisier and electronic based tracks don't compare favourably with Williams originals. But there are plenty of other good moments. The laconic drawl of John Murphy amidst electronic shimmers and drones on the Shining Vril take on 'Sandra Lindsay' is solid enough, and Foresta di Ferro offer a hilarious take on 'I'm in Love with the Ambulance Driver' with its accordion lead melody and city-square busker vocal. I can even find time for the thrash-pop of Womb and Ethel Mermaid, who, in a genius move, transform 'I Was a Fool in Love' into a sixties girl group sound, kinda like The Shirelles scoring a John Waters soundtrack. Other contributing acts include Love Axis, Testing Vault, Aesthetic Meat Front, Bleiburg, Teatro Satanico, Angel of Decay.

The Appeal of Discarded Orthodoxy succeeds in overcoming my aversion to the tribute CD, often a cheap marketing ploy by the label, and with the preponderance of OEC related acts (hell, even Rodolfo Protti the OEC label boss is on here with Lark Blames) this does, at times, fall into that category. It does however remains a fitting tribute to David E. Williams. I should point out that David E. Williams guests here in tribute to himself with a semi-orchestral version of 'Bad Day Anyway'. David E. Williams, like myself, has recently suffered personal strife but purchasing this isn't a charitable act. I would suggest it's mandatory and as Williams himself commented in an interview with the Lazarus Corporation "Some versions are so superior to the originals that they simultaneously fill me with pride as a songwriter and humility as a performer".

The Appeal of Discarded Orthodoxy features 38 interpretations of the work of David E. Williams split over 2 discs titled Pop and Folk and Contra Pop and Folk, in gatefold digipak with a stunning portrait of Mr Williams that seems to remind me of someone. For more information go to www.davidewilliams.com or www.oldeuropacafe.com