March 29, 2004

"This is out of my hands."- Kam Fong

So saith the Postman, in one of the most frightening musical performances of the '90s, in my opinion. For my inaugural MP3 post I wanted to pay homage to the almighty Kam Fong. "King of Prussia" was the obvious choice, but as this is my first MP3 post I didn't feel like going through the hoops of creating a non-AAC file. So I thought I'd dig even deeper into the vault.

This version of "AFC" was recorded by the explosively charged Fong lineup that, albeit relatively short-lived over the lifetime of the core group, won the most exposure for the band. While the original lineup featuring Chuck Madden was a more creative affair on the whole, and slightly more mellow if that term can even be used with this act, the lineup that featured Ryan "The Postman" Widger on bass was a catastrophic mixture of personalities that oxymoronically nurtured the music while at the same time nurturing conditions always ripe for mayhem.

Anyhow, Jones (guitar), Boran (drums) and Widger walked down the street one day from Boran's then-digs and noticed a recording studio in the neighborhood. They booked time and captured four tunes, the first being "AFC." Sonically, this version is sort of flat, particularly at its opening, and I have the feeling the eight-year-old cassette I ripped it from is to blame. In any event, Fongophiles will almost immediately take note of the additional layers of guitar and The Postman's demented David Yow-esque vocals, which, if they could be understood, would reveal dark and violent lyrics about experiencing a car wreck firsthand. While the frenetic layers of guitar in the bridge section beginning at about two minutes into the number seem to almost come unhinged, Widger's closing line underscores what most of you already know -- these guys have some serious fucking problems.

Jones' superlative lyrics have more breathing room on the version recorded with Madden after he returned to the fold one last time, and the latter version is not to be questioned performance and arrangement wise. However, the Postman years of Fong, though lost now in the darkening murk of the 90s and somewhat pale in comparison to the fruits of the Original Lineup's triumphant return, were truly something to behold, from drunken, late-night altercations with drum sets at Chuck O'Neill's summer pad at Wes, to cataclysmic, ground-shaking, confrontational and obscenity-laced performances at Wesleyan. All culminating in the maniacal line quoted above.

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