Discovered busking for pocket change on the Sunset Strip by Frank Zappa, Lawrence ‘Wild Man’ Fischer was a paranoid schizophrenic outsider artist who enjoyed short-lived cult success in late-1960s LA.
Produced by Zappa, his magnum opus is a scrappy sprawl of unhinged nursery-rhyme ditties, most famously Merry Go Round, punctuated by fragmentary anecdotes about Fischer’s life, including his enforced residencies in mental institutions. Zappa plays guitar on two tracks, between cameos by various counterculture luminaries, including Kim Fowley, who hails Fischer as a “growling savage” and a “jackass king”.
While he’s a clear ancestor of mentally fragile DIY artists like Daniel Johnston, Fischer’s yelping proto-punk primitivism is more interesting today as hippie-era historical snapshot than stand-alone musical statement. His violent mood swings led to a serious fall-out with Zappa, whose widow Gail blocked the album’s CD reissue for decades. With both now dead, this tragicomic time capsule is finally available to baffle and disturb a new generation.