July 30, 2009
Corky’s Debt To His Father
1970 | Texas Revolution
It’s a little difficult to deconstruct something like Red Krayola founder Mayo Thompson’s lone solo album, Corky’s Debt To His Father, when one has no point of reference for the artist’s more celebrated work. I know absolutely nothing about Red Krayola, save that they have been around for decades, making avant-garde rock records and serving a niche market I will probably never even begin to understand or appreciate. But the cover looked cool, the album had been reissued by Drag City, and I couldn’t tell if the group was called “Mayo Thompson” or “Corky’s Debt To His Father,” so I was sold.
What followed upon first listen was neither the country record I’d expected, nor the noise/“out” record I’d feared. (I’ve only recently, tentatively, dipped my toe into avant-garde/noise/“out” music, and so am often still skeptical). Nope, Corky’s Debt To His Father falls specifically into that realm of bizarre, uncategorizable folk that often hews dangerously close to the abyss of self-indulgence, and almost certainly involves some sort of illness or tragedy. Three records sprang immediately to mind upon hearing Corky’s Debt To His Father: Alex Chilton’s 1970 (a long-shelved solo debut that came after the Box Tops broke up, but before Big Star formed), Skip Spence’s Oar (recorded entirely by Spence, in the very first few days after he’d been released from a six month stay in Bellevue Hospital for schizophrenia) and Stephen Jesse Bernstein’s Prison (Bernstein’s lone spoken-word album, released by Sub Pop after the troubled poet took his own life in October, 1991).
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