elcome to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blog. The aim of this blog is to introduce the readers to music that is out of print, commercially unavailable, released under a creative commons license, or with approval by the featured artist. The majority of the music posted here would be considered underground. Don't let that fool you into thinking that the music featured here might be any less enjoyable than that of the mainstream artists you hear on the radio, as this couldn't be further from the truth.
Please keep in mind that the majority of the artists that appear on this blog, along with their respective record labels, are not wealthy and need your support. If you enjoy the material that you find here, please support the artists/labels by purchasing their material afterwards. If you are an artist/label that would prefer to have your material removed from this blog, simply leave me a comment, and I would be more than happy to promptly remove the offending post.
In addition to running this blog, I also work on a few other projects during my spare time. You can find links to those, as well as a few other important links associated with Digital Meltd0wn in the menu bar above.
To many the late Wesley Willis will never be considered anything other than a novelty act, his music often reserved for when they need a quick laugh, rarely taking the time to reflect upon the meaning behind his bizarre lyrics. However, his music is important to me for much more personal reasons. My mother, like Willis, is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. It can be very difficult to understand those who have schizophrenia and the depth of the conflict that they must deal with. Wesley Willis is one of the few examples that we have of a person diagnosed with Schizophrenia, who was able to make a career as a successful musician, and share the inner turmoil that he constantly faced with the world. Willis' created music as way of dealing with his encounters with demons, which occurred mainly on the CTA bus lines in Chicago. Willis coined the term "Warhellride" to describe these frequent encounters. His approach to music was simple and crude, often dealing with obscene subject matter, and frequently sporadic in nature.
The majority of Willis' musical output featured only Willis accompanied by his Technics KN keyboard. Willis didn't actually play any of the notes heard on his solo work, instead he simply used the one-note autochord feature on his keyboard. A variety of different programs were utilized, although the bulk of his solo material consist of the same program being used extensively, with only slight variations in the key or tempo of the song. As a result, much of the music on his albums sounds very repetitive. Fortunately the repetiveness is made more tolerable by his outrageous lyrics and vocal delivery.
His lyrics also usually follow a general pattern, although to classify Willis's lyrics according to any conventional rhyme scheme or meter proves difficult. Lyrics generally began with a verse: a four-line spoken stanza, usually consisting of statements about the subject of the song. This was followed by the chorus, which was simply the subject of the song sung anywhere from three to six times in a non-professional, "drunk anthem" type style. Then another verse and another chorus, followed by an instrumental bridge section, where Willis, who had taken to heart the advice he had heard that the ideal song length for radio play is two minutes and 50 seconds would push the "fill" button repeatedly on his keyboard, usually triggering accompanying sound effects. The song ended with another verse, a chorus, and the words "Rock over London! Rock on Chicago," a catchphrase from an hour-long WXRT radio show. It was often followed by a company or product's name and slogan. Each song would end with a different slogan. If performed live, "Chicago" would be replaced with whatever city Willis was performing in.
On a few occasions Willis collaborated with other musicians, with The Wesley Willis Fiasco being the most well known collaborative effort. The style of music was much different from Willis' previous solo material, as the Fiasco concentrated on more of a punk style. The band consisted of Willis on vocals, Pat Barnard on (Lead Guitar), Dale Meiners (Rhythm Guitar), Dave Nooks (Bass) and Brendan Murphy (Drums). They released only one studio album, Spookydisharmoniousconflicthellride (a reference to Willis's description of his schizophrenic episodes). The Fiasco toured with many bands, most notably Rocket from the Crypt, Lordz of Brooklyn, and Sublime. They also released a much sought after and hard to find 7" vinyl split with Sublime, as well as a split with Chicago's The Frogs
Due to conflicts between the Fiasco band's shows and Willis's solo keyboard shows, the band broke up while on tour in Ohio in 1997. Willis stated that the demons in his head worsened during the tour, causing him to constantly yell at the band. After the break up Willis went on to release a number of solo albums. On August 21, 2003, Willis died at the age of 40 in Prospect Heights, Illinois due to complications from chronic myelogenous.
The details of the life Willis lived are perhaps more interesting than the music he was able to produce, as I would assume would be the case for many who live with a powerful psychological disorder such as Schizophrenia. In life Willis was not only known for his music, but for his larger than life personality as well. He would often headbutt fans and random people that he met, which resulted in a large callus on his forehead, which can be seen in almost every photo of him in existence. He was also known for attending hundreds of concerts, where he sold the majority of his CDs face to face. At the time of his death, he had recorded over 1,000 songs but his total life savings were less than $200. Having sold out hundreds of venues across the country, the question still remains where all of his money went. Although Wesley is gone now, and his money remains missing, his legacy and music still remain for all to enjoy. Rock on Chicago... Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions!
Year of Release: 1992 Label: Urban Legends Genre: Punk, Outsider Music
Track List: 1. Get On The Bus 2. I'm Doing It Well On The Side Of The Rea 3. Pop That Pussy 4. Casper The Homosexual Friendly Ghost 5. I Can't Drive 6. He's Doing Time In Jail 7. Bar Is Closed, The 8. Jesus Is The Answer 9. Blood, Guts & Fire Trucks 10. She Loves Me Truly 11. Drink That Whiskey 12. Steve Albini 13. Steve Albini (reprise) 14. I'm Sorry That I Got Fat