Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me
Where I come from, Gary Wilson is a hometown hero. Sort of. Gary and I come from a strange small town named Endicott which is nestled in the armpit of what can only be described as a slightly larger armpit, Binghamton NY. In Endicott, you can find good Italian food, many carousels, a total aversion to change, earplugs and blindfolds to deny that there is a world outside the city limits, trace amounts of toxic waste in the sewers from massive IBM chemical spills and in the mid 1970's you could also find a guy named Gary walking his pet duck up and down the main strip of town. Gary was a musical prodigy, fascinated by both early rock and roll and the avant garde. At 16 he reached out to John Cage who then invited Gary to his house to discuss music and theories of expression. In 1977 he self-released his debut, You Think You Really Know Me, which Feeding Tube records has recently given the reissue treatment. Recorded in his parents basement on the North side of Endicott, the album combines the frontman-centric pop vocalist aesthetics that first appealed to Gary, but with undertones of obsession, self hatred and a perspective clearly rooted in the avant garde. This album lends itself both to dancing, making out and shivering in the corner in complete and utter terror. Gary was completely rejected by his community and his outrageously confrontational live shows that typically involved flour, milk, cellophane and blow up sex dolls. After a couple more singles and a brief US tour in 1981, Gary Wilson dropped off the map. For record collectors focused on the strange and obscure, he may have not been so unknown. To the rest of the world however, it was as if he never happened. The general public became aware of Gary when Beck name dropped him in his 1996 hit single “Where It's At” (“My man Gary Wilson who rocks the most!”). Gary became aware of Beck's fascination when he was watching the MTV VMA's in 1996. Beck was asked how he felt about winning so many awards to which he replied, “All I want to say, is 6.4 = Make Out” (which is both a lyric and a song title from You Think You Really Know Me). It's around this time that the Gary Wilson story gets a new chapter; that of the rediscovery. Motel Records became somewhat obsessed with finding Mr. Wilson and after years of looking and several dead ends, there he was, alive and working in an adult movie theater in San Diego. After performing a handful of shows to celebrate his reemergence, his career was restarted and the world has seen multiple new Gary Wilson albums since. But it all starts with You Think You Really Know Me. Besides the fact that the music is both sexy and scary, completely insane and completely groovy, this album is a testament to being fearless when just about everyone who hears you or sees you completely rejects you. This album is essential on many levels for its musical articulation, its singular vision and as an artifact of DIY culture in the face of cultural norms. Gary has served as a means of encouragement for me, and my other strange friends, who come from the same, or similar small upstate NY towns. Regardless of where you come from or where you are now, here's your chance to get to know Mr. Gary Wilson. (Adam)
Check out a track here.