30 YEARS LATER, "THE DARK SIDE OF VICON" IS STILL AN ALBUM!!!
By Uncle Chick
In a move all recipients of a lobotomy at Napa State Mental Hospital are drooling about, the band Factory Floyd has remastered and reissued their 1973 masterpiece, "The Dark Side Of Vicon." Once condemned as a pretentious platter of drivel, Snorky has often been quoted as saying "Greps No Kapootie" when it came to this album. If you thought you had to be up on Cripple Creek to enjoy a drunkards dream, then you've never heard Factory Floyd. Always on the cutting edge in the music industry, the Floyds have countered the trend of including bonus tracks on reissues by actually removing two songs from the original album. This is certainly a bold move that this reviewer considers the smartest thing FF has ever done. Less is more, when it comes to Factory Floyd. That's what I always say! Well, not always. I'd be pretty damn boring if I walked around saying only "less is more" all day. Let's face it, only a fucking idiot would walk the streets of Coalinga saying "less is more" to everyone he meets. Now, "titties and beer; titties and beer," that's something worth repeating endlessly, but "less is more," give me a break! But, enough about me.
30 years ago, when I first bought this album, the group's 8th studio release (not counting the early singles compilation "Derelics"), I was skeptical about Factory Floyd producing their own concept album. Not being a band to ever have a concept, an album seemed pointless. But spurred on by the departure of original members Pete Floor and Sid Ferret, this plucky band of Floyd inbreds sought to prove the mendicants of Great Britain wrong. And wrong they were! "Dark Side" became the most successful album with 19 tracks that only contained 10 songs of all time! And now, newly remastered in 1.5 Darnby SlurroundSound®, it is sure to become the most successful 19 track album with only 8 songs of all time!
Always known for their incoherent experimentation with sound, the "Dark Side" opens with some nonsensical gibberish that segues into a drunken gnat flying around a microphone. The second song, "Sweat," contains perspiring lyrics that three decades later still make me hit myself in the face with a sponge. I often think this will cool me off, but it doesn't. I sweat right along with everyone else forced to listen to this song.
By the third song, "On The Rum," so am I. There is no way I can survive the rest of this album sober. After a few Mai Tais, the fourth track "Time" was still playing. In some mystical way, I believe "Time" stood still...or I accidentally hit 'pause' on the CD player.
Factory Floyd's obsession with Visalia, a booming metropolis in central California where they grow the world famous Visalia Onion, makes the listener cry out for more alcohol. You'll long for one margarita after another. Also, their continued mentioning of Vicon [a.k.a. the Vicon Fritter], a psychedelic aphrodisiac popular in the early seventies that gives you a perpetual erection, climaxes with the final line of "Time" when they urge you to "come" and play. Note: If you play this section backwards you can hear absolutely nothing unusual, even while watching the movie "Zardoz."
"The Great Gig On The Lawn" is a song about reverse child abuse where young Zoe Floyd beats the shit out of Martin, Pete and Barry Floyd. With her cries of "it's too loud," she repeatedly attacks the band members, strangles them, and their cries of pain are captured on tape. This was certainly the most controversial song on the album 30 years ago. But with the preponderance of children murdering their parents today, the song seems rather tame, albeit prophetic. Even though the album assures us that no animals were harmed in its making, to this day, I still swear a few cats were strangled during the recording of this song.
"Vicon," the song selected for single release from the album, is still a commercially rigid member on the album. The production staff stuck out the length of the piece through multiple recording sessions. In spite of this Pop song being out of place on a concept album and a crass piece of commercial shit, I still find this number a meaty, turgid wiener winner.
"Fuss and Tion" and "Any Cooler You Like" are hidden tracks that happily I couldn't find on the album. These are the two songs brilliantly removed from the original work.
"Brain Damaged" is an emotionally moving self-analysis of the band members and their state of mental health after years of beers. The lunatics are not on the grass. They are on grass and also on this album. The closing number, Eclispse" (a Floydism for "ear clips" a device the band's engineer uses during recording) ends the album with the return of the trained drunken gnat. This uncredited creature certainly gets my highest praise for both its performance and endurance.
Even though Pete Floor's presence was missed, I often feel that it was the banal eccentric noise of original member Sid Ferret that was sadly absent from "Dark Side." As a professional alcoholic, Sid would have made his daring vocal contributions while standing upside down with his head in a bucket of piranha fish. His antics are what made the early psychotic sound of Floyd much more than the later ramblings of a pack of drunks.
Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes art imitates life. Sometimes I eat Life and imitate Art. Then, Art usually kicks the shit out of me for imitating him. I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, but then again, I'm not sure why I listened to all of "The Dark Side Of Vicon" again. 30 years ago, I used my original copy for skeet. This newly remastered CD version makes an excellent coaster. "There's someone who's not drunk but it's not me."