The Parasites of the Western World
by Tony Maygarden
|Modern technology has brought the cost of high quality audio gear down
to a level where just about anyone (assuming that they know what they're
doing) can make a professional sounding recording in his/her basement
or bedroom. This has led to a DIY (Do It Yourself) ethos that is now pervasive.
Fully fleshed out recordings created entirely by one or two people, and
released on private labels, are a dime a dozen these days. But way back
in 1978, the complexity and cost of recording and releasing an album was
far beyond the ways and means of most musicians -- but not The Parasites
of the Western World!
The self-titled LP was almost entirely the creation of Terry Censky and Patrick Burke, with help on guitar from Mark Weatherford. All instruments, vocals, recording and mixing, songwriting (with one exception -- see below), cover photography and layout, and label graphics were all handled by Censky and Burke.
The front cover
above may look primitive, but the album
The 1983 edition of The Trouser Press Guide to New
Wave Records states that The Parasites hailed from Portland
Oregon, "spreading electronic weirdness throughout the land."
There certainly is plenty of that, but the boys also work in a blues
instrumental ("A Rare Case of the Blues"), a John Lennon-esque
piano ballad ("God or Just a Slow Breeze"), a Beatles cover
(the instrumental "Flying" from Magical Mystery Tour
-- not a bad version*) and a couple of songs that are similar in style
to the New Wave that was taking off at the time ("You Must Be
Speaking of loops, the piano and synth instrumental
"Siege of the Twilight Loon" starts with looped loon calls
-- needless to say, not a technique that was common in 1978. "Alienending"
ends the LP with flat out electronic craziness (Burke is listed as
playing "Alien Effects," Censky as "More Alien Effects").
Processed echoing vocals, a heartbeat rhythm, a screaming guitar riff
-- a little disturbing but cool.
* The Trouser Press Guide lists the Beatles'
cover as "Blue Jay Way" -- which is wrong.
Terry Censky (left)
and Patrick Burke.
The POTWW is a pretty tough album to find on LP, but it