OLD FEZZIWIG came to haunt me Christmas Eve! It sounds like the ravings of a lunatic, but it’s quite true. Not the lunatic part *(well, maybe that too). Let me explain. Amidst all the quietly volatile chaos, it was like God itself had smiled, if only for an hour, here for the ritual Hell of Holidays *(perhaps I have been seeing ghosts, but this has nothing to do with it). In my physical mailbox on Dec. 23rd was an unexpected treat, the DEVIL DRINKS MINT TEA full length cd by OLD FEZZIWIG, and act I’ve interesting associations with from almost forgotten years past. It was possibly the best gift I could’ve received *(that said, it was the only gift I received). There may be a Satanic Santa Clause thing going on here, I don’t know. I’ve come to learn all things are possible.
Christ, I don’t even know where to begin. Before the disc, a little history. Way back in ‘92-93, I met TIM FEZZ from OLD FEZZIWIG almost completely by accident *(though there are no accidents). I’d been performing with AGE OF DESIRE since ‘91, and he with OLD FEZZIWIG since about the same time, and we just kinda crossed paths, largely through another great band, SPACE CHRIST. It was only natural, I suppose. We were both theatrical bands, mine being of the raw meat/piss/fake-real blood variety, and his being something entirely indescribable but no less insidious. The OLD FEZZIWIG of yore donned a Casper the Friendly Ghost mask *(or alternately a gimp or frightening pig mask) with the mouths all cut out, a Confederate jackett & Bolo hat. It was a sight to behold, and it fit the incredibly unique tone of the music perfectly. There was nothing else like that. It stuck out. I remember AGE OF DESIRE performing at OLD FEZZIWIG’S final gig in ‘93, a place called Sabatino’s. It was absolute madness. I also remember the disheartening fact that this legend was slinking back into the shadows, hanging his guitar up in the institution where he worked, shattered and even more disillusioned rock-n-roll fantasies thought forever to now be a pale memory. It’s time to put my feet up he’d said to himself.
Fast forward to the cesspool-frequencies of 2017. Just in time for Xmas, like the ghost of its namesake, OLD FEZZIWIG has returned, bringing back that unique sonic swagger of a fad that unfortunately never was. If you weren’t there it may not seem all that stultifying, but this performer/band presented a sound like no other. Now the Casper mask is off, and this music plays for keeps. It now has the enlightenment and embitterment of age behind it, lightly touching on the past but largely based in the now, and the future.
In all seriousness, what’s presented here is something that, quite factually, one just doesn’t hear anymore. It’s largely reminiscent of something that would’ve been on SST Records circa 1986, having that unique, lo-fi avante-garde quality of genuine and quite specific, noisey brilliance. Throw into to that a little ROKY ERICKSON, JOHNNY THUNDERS, KISS, BLACK FLAG, THE BAGS *(both bands that existed using that moniker) and even a bit of MISSION OF BURMA influence, and it’s quite the stew. The band has been reformulating since *(according to what’s absolutely the best press release I’ve ever gotten) about 2007, having not existed since ‘93, and this is the raucous culmination of ten years of off-and-on practice, performance, and perseverance, culminating finally in this full length work of true voice. There is nothing else out there like this, and if there is please let me know, as it touches on an unique mindset-era in rock history where there were no bounds, but retains its own specific OLD FEZZ sound amidst all the clutter of our dying modern world.
The opening track, “Flesheater,” is a song who’s beginning’s date back to ‘91 or ‘92, but it was something never on the original and only cassette release. Admittedly, I was privy to a number of never released tracks from back then, and this was one of the best, always a live staple. It appears here sounding as fresh as the splat of new afterbirth, the perfect opener to what is 80% brand new material, beginning with the next track “Dumb 2 Tha Blood,” for which there’s also a video. These songs are right out of the classic mid 80’s sludge rock handbook, but played with tight ferocity, with an exuberant and genuine passion for the craft as a whole. With OLD FEZZIWIG you don’t just get the schlock, you do also get the rock, and perhaps even a little of the cock in the sock. There’s just as much finely aged wisdom here to open a cheese shop as there is to melt the heart. “THE WORLD WANTS TO BE DECEIVED” truthfully speaks the intro to the title track “Devil Drinks Mint Tea.” “Love & Discount Food” is a Malaise Rock classic if ever one there was, with pontifications on life, the future, and George “The Animal” Steele. It’s a love song celebrating Blackie Lawless and Iggy Pop, and the existence of FEZZ himself: “If you got love and discount food, You’re doing alright.” He’s not wrong. “If you got a smoke and you got a light, Go ignite!”
Long gone may be the Casper mask and the outrageous pageantry, but this is genuine old-blood rock-n-roll. “Red Flopster” is a bouncy, hook laden instrumental conjustring up imagery far more strung-out than anything the B52’s could’ve ever conceived. The album ends on perhaps it’s highest possible note, by going out with the ultimate version of their classic track “Rollerball King.” The production for this song in particular is above the usual standard, as it is for the majority of the album as a whole, having been recorded at Noisy Critter Studio in Thorndale, PA, in a two day bang out in February 2017. This triumphant blast of epic closer, going all out on what’s possibly the best great rock-n-roll ending of the century, hails back many years and is served up here freah as the day it was made with the proper due treatment.
DEVIL DRINKS MINT TEA by OLD FEZZIWIG is real rock-n-roll done right, done with heart and humor and the tongue planted firmly in it’s cheeky honesty. OLD FEZZIWIG can kick their feet up at the end of the day knowing they’ve accomplished something unique in this strange time capsule, the decay of rust battered off of it to relinquish a new protozoa throbbing to the vibration of this rock-n-roll nightmare grooving just underneath. It is of itself. I can only but recommend this to anyone craving a little something classic-not-refurbished in their background sound, and highly urge you to contact the band and throw your money at them, they need to eat too, and this is entirely worth it.
At the bottom of the press release was typed *(yes, this was typed with a typewriter, something I appreciate just as much as the music itself) an interesting collection of words. Very loose, strange, a severe dissociation lurking within the letters of the typeface itself. Could this be a poem? A song? A lil discolored crust flakes off as I read further, and upon closer inspection, I think they belong to the song “Heatstroke”: “The brain is dried out – Dust Demons assault psyche – Vultures converse over blood and guts martinis – Snakes rape Kennedy – In his marbled tomb – Peyote jesters smile – Ever widening DEATH GRINS – Feasting on scorpion . . . sanities—-tarantulas—-poison—creating—-bristled mutants—with penchants for CRUCIFIXION/CRIB DEATH—agavebloated —worm bodies – -EVERYWHERE+++++++++ THE SHAMAN swallows his eyeballs-shitting flesh balloons That fly——HIGHER——and—–Higher———-away” — TIM FEZZ 10/03/2046
And that, in a nutshell, is OLD FEZZIWIG. You need this in your collection. Do it.
I wonder what Herbert Slack would think of all of this – – –
Thanks for reading. 93.
OLD FEZZIWIG can be found at:
“Dumb 2 Tha Blood” video: https://www.facebook.com/tom.torrisi.5/videos/10156435981183465/
VINCENT DAEMON is a writer of the macabre & nonfiction, reviewer, editor, essayist, student of Phenomenology and the Occult, musician, founder of Grave Demand Publishing, social observer, photographer, historian of film/music/literature and the general strange. His Weird Fiction has appeared in over 40 anthologies and periodicals, in both print and digital. He’s also contributed hundreds of film, music, and book reviews to T.I.F. and various other sites. Whatever is not out-of-print can be found at AMAZON and in various dark corners of the internet. For a free sampling of his work, check out his stories at the FREEZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION: http://freezineoffantasyandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/ To sample the multitudes of music he’s recorded over the years, check out VINCENT DAEMON’S AGE OF DESIRE at Reverbnation: https://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 He can be found at Facebook, as well. MUSICIANS! WRITERS! FILMMAKERS!: If you would like your work reviewed/covered in the ROSETTA BONES, please send works and materials to firstname.lastname@example.org.