¬†¬†¬†¬† Newcomers to the genius and power of the mighty Oxbow might be surprised by how long and how active Oxbow frontman and general polymath Eugene Robinson has been within the American underground over the course of the past three decades. Long before Oxbow took shape in the later part of the 1980's, Robinson published his own magazine called Birth Of Tragedy which featured interviews with a wide array of personalities and thinkers from within the American underground, post-punk and otherwise. In 1987, the project culminated in a cassette (and later LP) titled Fear Power God, a collection of spoken word pieces, Industrial soundscapes and sound art that has been out of print for years, which featured pieces from Jello Biafra, Allen Ginsberg, Anton La Vey, Henry Rollins, Lydia Lunch, Whipping Boy, Matt Heckert, Charles Manson, Mr. V.O. Real, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The compilation has been reissued on CD for the first time ever by the new label Blackhouse Records, and it's a cool look backwards at a moment in the 1980's when spoken word was still an interesting artform.
¬†¬†¬†¬†Being a fan of this sort of stuff from back in the day (sure, I've got a handful of Rollins' spoken word albums, I'm not afraid to admit it), I was really interested in finally hearing this collection, and while it definitely sounds "of its time", so much of this album sounds like some weird sound art experiment than just straightforward spoken word pieces that I've been listening to it a bunch since we got them in. Lydia Lunch kicks this off with one of her trademark snarling polemics titled "The Human Animal", followed by an ominous Industrial dronescape from Matt Heckert of Survival Research Labs. Legendary bohemian author Lawrence Ferlinghetti contributed his version of "The Lord's Prayer", and recordings of Charles Manson playing some of his country music songs are collaged together into a haunting piece - Manson eerily sounds like Willie Nelson here. The tracks from Church Of Satan founder Anton La Vey, Henry Rollins, Allen Ginsberg, and Jello Biafra are pretty much what you'd expect from each of 'em if you are already familiar with their particular style, but it's all cool stuff. And the final track that is featured here is one from Whipping Boy, Eugene Robinson's early 80's pre-Oxbow band, titled "The 3rd Secret". I had never heard Whipping Boy before, having only been aware of the band after getting into Oxbow, but holy shit, if the rest of their stuff is anything like the two-minute rush of pitch-black evil Industrial drone n' clang going on here, I've got to track down whatever else they recorded pronto.
¬†¬†¬†¬†Overall, this is a pretty cool reissue, especially if you've got a taste for 80's-era counterculture spoken word performances, and it's presented with some liner notes from Eugene himself, as well as artwork and repros of the original magazine covers.