Camper Van Chadbourne Used Record Pile

Whether you take Eugene Chadbourne to be the wise fool or the village idiot of experimental rock, he remains as pure and spontaneous an eccentric as you’re likely to find in these ruthlessly focus-grouped times. Long an enfant terrible of left field rock, dating back to his work with Shockabilly, Chadbourne brought his whinnying Dr. Demento vocals to his ongoing collaborations with Camper Van Beethoven over four albums from 1987 to 1991, collected here on Used Record Pile, a document of already eccentric roots-rock getting the full-blown Lower East Side avant-garde treatment. Occasionally, the nutty crew lapses into tunefulness, but for the most part the effect is closer to a Neutral Milk Hotel without the discipline of melodic structures, as if the Neutrals were put into a centrifuge with the lid open. Highly eclectic chaos, in short, except in those cases where they’re taking the piss out of rock pretension, such as their deadpan skewering of the bombastic nonsense of King Crimson’s "I Talk to the Wind," or when Dr. Chadbourne sticks it to American foreign policy like an elfin Noam Chomsky, capering away to runaway mandolins, violins and saxophones all seemingly bent on different courses. Regardless of whether you agree with Chadbourne’s punditry, this is assuredly not everyone’s idea of fun, but if it works for you, more power to you. (Knitting Factory)