Vinyl Review: “Where Have Our Manners Gone?” by The Pizazz
Mike Donovan | Thursday, September 28, 2017
Readers, I’d like to be able to tell you that we, the Scene writers, transcend all hipster tropes, that we rise above the stereotypes that define so many pop culture enthusiasts — but we are imperfect creatures. Sometimes, the crisp beads of quirky goodness glistening on the outer shell of hipsterdom’s mostly empty framework are a little too tempting, which leads to some brash decisions.
This piece, the first of our Vinyl Review series, is one such decision — a monstrous bite of the forbidden fruit. But, despite the piece’s cliche nature, I still somewhat selfishly think you should give it a shot. Forbidden fruit, it turns out, can still be delicious.
I don’t mean to reduce today’s pertinent record, “Where Have Our Manners Gone?” by The Pizazz, to a simple fruit metaphor — the record is much more than that. Nor do I mean to compare the record to a religious artifact. As far as I can tell, it’s moderately spiritual and only on a good day.
The record is a person. You don’t know him very well, but you have a solid idea of who he is. You’ve read about him in Kerouac and Bukowski, seen him in Wes Anderson’s better characters and in episodes of “Rick and Morty.” He’s the drunken, morally compromised buffoon who defies all preconceptions to do something meaningful and demonstrate his bulging heart of gold.
“Where Have Our Manners Gone?” is a squatter. In lieu of building a suitable house for their record, The Pizazz repurposed the sleeve of Burt Bucharach’s 1967 instrumental record “Reach Out” to shelter its lovable tramp. Carefully executed permanent marker work blots out roughly 8-22 percent of the Bucharach’s original lettering and adds the full spectrum of oddity necessary for Pizazz-related material to avoid confusion: album title, track list, band members, producer and 17 fascinating renditions of the band name.
Once needle hits groove, the record’s schizophrenic psych pop bursts from the vinyl, taking listeners on an acid trip through the buddy region between the urban and suburban experience.
During the introduction, a piano-based number fit for a horror film, you fall asleep with the record, descending into its sadistic dream world. Some regions of the record’s inner life coddle listeners with gratuitous warmth. “Dolphin Patrol” channels the Beach Boys, guiding listeners down the shore (with a few sadistic lyrics slipped in here and there) and “Plan B” celebrates the Kinks’ awkward optimism as it reflects on perseverance from the far left of the dial. Other portions of the records’ headspace take on a murkier quality. “Conversation Piece” slaps listeners in the face with communicative dysfunction until its propulsive garage rock finally runs out of gas.
To discover the full extent of the record’s unorthodox tenacity, you must travel to the transitional sectors of the soundscape. “Pink Ghost,” the last song on the A-side, and “Zombie Lullaby,” the first song on the B-side, occupy the misty space between existential terror and chemical euphoria. In this corner of the record’s universe, fuzz-caked psych, bubblegum pop and sardonic indie freely intermingle, forming an unlikely pact. Fear and ecstasy, locked in marriage, turn their collective energy against the listener to incite delectable turmoil.
When the needle slides to the inside track, you wake up queasy and confused. You might find a canvas, loose-leaf sheet, index card or wrapper and begin painting furiously. You might find a corner, curl up into a ball and rock back and forth a few hundred times. You might flip the record back over and play it again. All of these responses would be acceptable. But, regardless of the response you choose, one thing will be certain: You and the record — and each one of its drunken, boisterous, and manically unkempt songs — will be buddies.
If you are in search of a buddy and feel as though “Where Have Our Manners Gone?” fits your parameters, you’ll have to travel roughly three hours by car (or a certain green bike sharing service) to Ferndale, Michigan — an edgier suburb of Detroit. Poke your head in the relevant venues — The Loving Touch and The Magic Stick — and ask if anyone knows and could possibly direct you to The Pizazz or Mr. Eugene Strobe, the producer of “Where Have Your Manners Gone?” If, by some stroke of luck, you manage to track them down, they might be able to sell you the record.
You can also just shoot them an email, if you hate fun.