Thursday, September 13, 2012

ANDY PRIEBOY, off kilter mega-talent

The composition deliberately was photographed off kilter to mirror its subject, as his metier was awfully strange for a highly successful music biz star.

This was Andy Prieboy circa the late 1980s
in the pre-broadcast green room for the television show Tom & Randy's Excellent Videos (early cable tv offering of superior, alternative music fare from writers Tom Kidd and Randy Karr. Tom in particular was [and remains] known for being the rare insightful music writer with integrity in a business that openly declares war on these very attributes.)

Prieboy was on top of the world when this photo was taken, and I appreciated his sly smirk for same. He'd authored "Tomorrow Wendy," which had just become a viable chart hit for Concrete Blonde, a song improbably about suicide related to a diagnosis of AIDS which was then wholly untreatable. I should know: one of my first cousins died of this somewhat later. I miss him still.

Earlier Prieboy had replaced Stan Ridgway as lead vocalist/co-songwriter in another alternative hit band, Wall of Voodoo circa1983. He then took flight with fascinating solo work that was lyrically as original as Randy Newman's genre and sonically complex as Jellyfish or Procol Harum. In "Upon My Wicked Son" his original tunes in myriad styles bore titles such as "Maybe That's Not Her Head," "Joliet" (as in the prison,) "Man Talk" and my personal favorite "Montezuma Was A Man Of Faith" (with its catchy chorus " 'kept his faith, gave his world away..." in response to mistaking conquistadors as Gods. Plus ca change, plus le meme chose.)

He later composed a fascinating operetta in the late 1990s utilizing a deliberately corny Broadway Musical high style entitled "White Trash Wins Lotto" about an Axl Rose-type metal god, performed as a work in progress in clubs and on Conan O'Brien's eponymous tv show, said musical sadly left unfinished. He's now one of the Kings of Download, satisfying fans everywhere online.

I never got to photograph him live due to an odd exigent factor (not excuse.) My only photo invite was to one of those revolving clubs, the type housed in non-clubs with entirely different businesses during the day, different types of music on different nights, and entirely different addresses and places each time it occurred. Off I drove to Long Beach in the middle of the night, only to find no building with anything remotely resembling its address in an area of all seaside port-related warehouses and bunkers, none of which had any identification in words nor numbers. This pre-dated cell-phones to rectify such quandries, and after I ended up on a bridge in the shipyard docks with no hope of finding this invisible, Brigadoon-style disappearing club, I called it a night and slunk home in frustrated despair.

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