Greatest Hits Volume 3
CD - $12.00
We put this CD together KNOWING that Wesley would be around when it came out. Yet despite initial optimism in his battle against leukemia, his health took a turn for the worst and he passed away suddenly at the end of August 2003 at the age of 40. He will be greatly missed by his friends and hordes of music & art fans the world over. This enhanced CD is yet another celebration of Wesley's life.
Compiled by noted Wesley scholar Jello Biafra, "Greatest Hits, Volume 3" again culls the chestnuts from dozens of self-produced Wesley CDs, to unreleased and very early classics hardly anyone knew existed. Like Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Wesley Willis has created a persona so unique, no one dares try to imitate it. And boy has he put a spell on us.
Sure, many of his songs sound similar. But Jello created a great selection here displaying as many different sounding sopngs as possible; from the hard-rockin' Wesley Willis Fiasco tracks (Do It), to his playful use of vocal effects (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) and even the lo-fi new wave sound. (Gingerbread Knoched Me Out)
This CD has 25 songs and the enhanced part contains great video montage of Wesley as well as artwork, photos, sound samples, and liner notes by Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins. So tune in for a true harmony joyride from Rock & Roll's most beautiful mind & spirit - Wesley Willis.
Rock Over London...Rock on Chicago...Long Live Wesley Willis
"At one time, it seemed there were only two ways to digest a Wesley Willis record: as a bizarre, comical farce, or as a chronicle of a man's battle with schizophrenia. I've since found that there's a happy medium between the two, but when I first became acquainted with his music, my appreciation was firmly planted in the former category. It was 1996 when I first came across Willis' Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, and it instantly struck me as among the funniest, most absurd things I'd ever heard. I marveled at the similarity between every song, each clearly run through a bargain-basement Casio with preset melodies. I reveled in Wesley's impromptu rants and sound effects. But most of all, I was struck by the way Wesley chose to end every song with an advertising slogan. Surely, this was the work of a comedic genius.
For most, the novelty quickly wore off, but rather than returning to my shelf to be forgotten, the album inched its way into my regular rotation, much as William Shatner's The Transformed Man had the summer before. Intermixed with Pulp, Morphine and Pavement, it was easier to take Wesley's work more as music than comedy. I began to develop a strange appreciation for his twisted stories, and to see that this man, despite his failings, possessed an earnest musical vision, and was determined to foist it upon the world, ready or not. So keep in mind that it's as a fan that I assign this album a 4.6. For those of us who range from casual admirers to Wesleynauts, Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 simply serves up more of the same stuff we've come to oddly enjoy, which is unfortunate given the volume of music he produced in his lifetime.
Wesley's songs traditionally fall into a finite number of categories, and the material on Vol. 3, compiled by longtime friend Jello Biafra, offers no real exceptions to the rule. There are odes to popular venues ("Viper Room", "Wrigley Field"), tributes to heroes ("Oprah Winfrey", "Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers"), and surreal lyrical and sonic experiments ("If", "Suck a Polar Bear's Dick"). Some of the latter delve more into the realm of the bizarre than his previous offerings ("Make My Joyplane Crash and Burn", for instance, features modulated vocals reminiscent of early Ween), while much of the record's second half features lo-fi demos, as well as his varied work with both The Fiasco and The Dragnews. Unfortunately, too many tracks pop up to simply retread old ground. On "Your Way Right Away", Wesley rehashes "Rock 'n' Roll McDonalds" with Burger King instead, and "I Whipped Spiderman's Ass" once again pits Wesley against the superhero du jour. These poor choices undermine what little novelty remains this far into Wesley's career.
Like his previous collections, Vol. 3's strongest moments are Wesley's most intimate, when he writes about events in his daily life like an entry from some demented diary. On tracks like "My Keyboard Got Damaged" and "I'm Going on a World Tour", Wesley's spoken lyrics reveal how disjointed and tortured the life of a schizophrenic can be. "Verbal Assault" recounts a number of times during which he's been unintentionally disruptive when riding the bus: "Just as when I was listening to my rock and roll, a mean schizophrenia voice whipped my ass with profanity... Suddenly, I started to rave at the bus driver, calling him a jerk." Naturally, these rants can seem absurdly hilarious at first, but with time, one can get past that and recognize the sadness of these stories.
As most Pitchfork readers know, Wesley lost his battle with leukemia late last year at the age of 40. In that respect, Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 serves just as well as any of Wesley's previous efforts as a showcase for his unique vision."
||"Verbal Assault" by Wesley Willis()
||"The Viper Room" by Wesley Willis()
||"I'm Going on a World Tour" by Wesley Willis()
||"If" by Wesley Willis()
||"Your Way Right Away" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.3 MB)
||"Make My Joyplane Crash and Burn" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.2 MB)
||"I Whipped Spiderman's Ass" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.1 MB)
||"Suck A Pitbull's Dick" by Wesley Willis()
||"Oprah Winfrey" by Wesley Willis()
||"Love God" by Wesley Willis Fiasco()
MP3 (2.6 MB)
||"I'm the Daddy of Rock and Roll" by Wesley Willis()
||"My Keyboard Got Damaged" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.3 MB)
||"Wrigley Field" by Wesley Willis()
||"Chuckie" by Wesley Willis()
||"Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.0 MB)
||"My Mother Smokes Crack Rocks" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.3 MB)
||"Beware of Dog" by Wesley Willis()
||"Gingerbread Knocked Me Out" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (2.7 MB)
||"Do It" by Wesley Willis Fiasco()
||"Suck a Polar Bear's Dick" by Wesley Willis()
||"The Horse Bit Me" by Wesley Willis()
||"Carla Winterbottom" by Wesley Willis()
MP3 (1.9 MB)
||"Catalina" by Wesley Willis()
||"Benny the Bull" by Wesley Willis()
||"It's the End of the Western" by Wesley Willis()
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Wesley Willis & The Dragnews
Wesley Willis Fiasco