A Perfect Record #4 – Things Aren’t Right

Music has always been my salvation. Some recordings strike me as “perfect” from beginning to end. Even were I to go deaf, I would still be able to listen to these on the turntable of my mind, so ingrained into my consciousness are these albums. In this ongoing series, I’ll take a quick peek at some of the perfect records that have shaped my life.

Wazmo Nariz – Things Arent’ Right

Not all of my “perfect records” are well known. This one, in fact, is pretty obscure. I don’t remember exactly where I got it. The story I tell myself is that it was one of a dozen “remaindered” LPs I got 3-for-a-dollar at Meijer Thrifty Acres in my childhood home town of Ionia Michigan (right in the middle of the palm), sometime in the early to mid-70s (a major score that put another “perfect record” into my hands, about which I’ll write at another time.) Looking at Wazmo’s brief mention on Wikipedia, (real name Larry Grennan) however, I see that Things Aren’t Right didn’t come out until 1979 or so, at which point I was a student at Michigan State University. So probably I picked it up used at Flat, Black, and Circular. (Amazingly, that store is still around!)

The provenance feels important to me. Where was I, and what was I doing, when the gods put this little gift into my hands? Why did it hit me like it did? And why, when I put it on to listen yesterday, in anticipation of writing this, was I moved to play the entire LP three times in a row? The short answer is this: Things Aren’t Right sounds like what it feels like to be me.

From the urgent, plucky opening base line of The Mind is Willing to the Flesh is Weak, kept in loose time by that wobbling, wandering tom beat and those tickling keys, to the frantic, nervous hiccoughed vocals of Checking Out the Checkout Girl and the epic bounce of Al’s Radiator, this music, and the larger New Wave of which is was a part, spoke strongly to me, claiming my heart, if not my head, in no uncertain terms. It was odd. It was fun. It was nervous and urgent and anxious. It was new and exciting and out at the edge. It told me straight out what I already knew: that things aren’t right. And it wanted very much to dance, no matter how it looked. Though I’m rooted in Psychedelic and Bluegrass and Classic Rock, though my branches reach into the soaring skies of Prog, the lightning bolts of Metal and Industrial, and the rolling thunderous grooves of Rap, though I can listen, these days, to almost anything, and appreciate it for what it is, it’s the Punk/ Post-Punk/ New Wave/ Goth/ Synthpop sound that most resonants within the thick, stable trunk of my musical soul. This music was me, and I was it.

And it still is, and I still am.

You can’t buy a copy of Things Aren’t Right now, except for the rare used LP. There’s no CD on Amazon. No digital downloads, save for a single of Checking Out the Checkout Girl in the iTunes store. You can’t even get it in boxes of Breeze. But you can hear it on YouTube, where I’ve collected the various cuts together into a playlist.

Go now, listen, see if it moves you as well. Perhaps you’ll find yourself wanting to dance. Even if things aren’t right.

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