RELEASE
1988
LABEL
Shimmy Disc
GENRES
Pop/Rock, Experimental, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, American Underground

Album Review

Beginning an album career with an utterly schizophrenic double album that ran the gamut from reinterpretations of Led Zeppelin songs with Chinese lyrics to such zingily titled rants as "David Bowie Wants Ideas" might not seem like the most sane approach. Then again, Bongwater were one insane group. Kramer and Magnuson's screwy take on art rock รก la Henry Cow or early Faust is fairly overwhelming, though perhaps this is the whole point. With the help of Kramer's fellow Shockabilly vet David Licht on drums and King Missile guitarist Dave Rick, not to mention free jazz legend Don Cherry on a cut or two, the duo cranks up the overall weirdness factor, whether quiet or loud, to great effect. One definite carryover from Kramer and Licht's Shockabilly days is a fondness for tweaked reinterpretations of older tunes. Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2," Michael Nesmith's "Just May Be the One," and the Beatles' "Love You Too" and "Rain" are among some of the victims, at points rendered unrecognizable. Johnny Cash's "There You Go," however, gets a lovely, straightforward take. The musicians' overall abilities are quite impressive; given all the recording took place at Kramer's hole-in-the-wall studio, everything sounds pretty sharp throughout, and the use of various multi-tracking and production tricks fills out Double Bummer very well. Magnuson, though, steals the show with both her strong singing and witty, nutty spoken word pieces. "Decadent Iranian Country Club" recounts a dream set at such a location -- "pre-Ayatollah," she carefully notes -- with a sweetly off semi-whisper over an increasingly queasy guitar arrangement. As for the Bowie number, she details receiving a form letter from the Thin White Duke accidentally inviting her to contribute to a new album before meeting David Byrne out of nowhere and drinking perfume, the band doing a weird-ass psych jam behind it all. The CD version includes a three-song epilogue, the Breaking No New Ground EP, and a single featuring covers of Roky Erickson's "You Don't Love Me Yet" and the Monkees' "The Porpoise Song."
Ned Raggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Lesbians of Russia
  2. Frank
  3. We Did It Again
  4. Homer
  5. Joy Ride
  6. Decadent Iranian Country Club
  7. David Bowie Wants Ideas
  8. Rock & Roll, Pt. 2
  9. Just May Be the One
  10. There You Go
  11. Shark
  12. Jimmy
  13. Crime
  14. Pornography
  15. P.F.W.
  16. Dazed and Chinese
  17. Bullaby
  18. So Help Me God
  19. His Old Look
  20. Stone
  21. Number
  22. Love You To
  23. Reaganation
  24. Double Birth
  25. Bruce
  26. Pool
  27. Rain
  28. Havana
  29. Pentagon
  30. Truth
  31. Ride My See-Saw
  32. Barely Coping
  33. Four Sticks
  34. U.S.O.
  35. His New Look
  36. Julia
  37. You Don't Love Me Yet
  38. The Porpoise Song