Once upon a time, back when the 80s were ebbing into the 90s, New York City’s King Missile wrote songs. Oh sure, the songs were generally just a vehicle for the genially warped and deceptively deadpan spoken-word musings of John S. Hall. But one could hum these songs, and sometimes I did, and sometimes I still do. The latest incarnation of the band, King Missile III, however, dispenses with the tunecraft entirely. The new album The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Instinct/Knitting Factory) reprises the group’s now standard trick of allowing sugary, delicate piano and violin melodies to wander about beneath Hall’s astonishing verbal feats of scatology and obscenity. (I do believe I hear a slight nod to the Peanuts theme on “The Miracle of Childbirth,” in which Hall goes into lascivious detail about the hypothetical listener’s conception.) Hardly a moment of this record could be played on the radio, as Hall uses rude words like instruments in a complex orchestra of profanity. It may not be classy, but he’s performing real word jazz with all that potty talk. “The President,” which culminates in an astonishing riff on all the aural possibilities of the word “scumbag,” is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in years. Michael Moore uses many more–and much politer–words to articulate the same sentiments, and he’s still thought of as tactless. Saturday, March 29, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nancy Hall.