Visiting Chicago recently I snagged an exceedingly rare copy of a CD by outsider legend Jan Terri. This Windy City native was quite the sensation a decade or so ago, as I'm sure some of you may recall: after her jaw-dropping videos started making the rounds, she released two private-press CDs, started doing shows around Chicago, opened for Marilyn Manson, and appeared on Jon Stewart's Daily Show. After setting up a website in 2001, she announced that she was working on a third album, disappeared, and hasn't been in the public eye since.
On this 1993 album, there's quite the contrast between her thin, off-key voice and the professional studio cats backing her with slick country pop and Van Halen "Jump"-esque rockers. She double-tracks her voice most of the time, but since she can't really hold a melody, there's a vaguely unsettling dissonance that runs throughout the whole album.
Still, there's some lovely stuff here - "If You Want a Divorce" has a sweetness that suggests The Shaggs growing up and facing adult issues. "Losing You," one of her video "hits," is a catchy sing-along. "Keep on Knocking" is an uncredited Little Richard rip. Other songs are downright puzzling, with the absurd "Fax My Love" (check that title!) reaching such a level of dementia that it'll either convince you of Terri's genius, or have you running screaming out of the room, hands over your ears. Or maybe both.
[UPDATE 2/24/10: Link removed by request of artist. Sorry, but just heard from a friend of Jan's that she's alive, well, and ready to launch a comeback]
2 Keep on Knocking
3 Missing You (More & More)
4 I'd Like to Make It With You Babe
6 Being Back With You
7 Fax My Love
8 Never Get You off My Mind
9 If You Want a Divorce
10 Baby Blues
11 Losing You
This page has both a more in-depth biography of Terri, as well as a video documentary.
We were in Chicago for a friend's wedding. Only reception I've been to where the bride herself dj-ed from her iPod. So no "We've Only Just Begun" or Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate." Instead: James Brown deep cuts, The Trogg's "I Can't Control Myself," some salsa. When my wife told dj/bride that the Cuff-Links (their early '70s bubblegum hit "Traci" was playing) and the Archies had the same lead singer, and bride replied "I know, Ron Dante!" I could only beam with pride.