Wicked Witch Chaos 1978-1986

If clothes make the man, then a black leather (pleather?) bodysuit studded with rhinestones on the personage of a one-person jazz/funk/electro/blues non-linear groove machine shows Wicked Witch/Ricky Simms' utter conviction in his warped sensibilities. This collection of twelve-inch singles and unreleased debris shows Simms maximizing every ounce of his education at the Duke Ellington School For The Arts in Washington, DC. Like Ellington, Simms's ears are tuned to the totality of black music in America. Unlike Ellington, Simms wants to hear it all at the same time. This music lurches along with drum machines wading through bluesy jams, guitar noise, unabashed hair metal riffs and occasionally risqué vocals. Viewed with contemporary eyes, Simms seems like a progenitor of Gang Gang Dance rather than Prince's freakier step-brother, though the prog-y, grandiose 12-minute jam, "Vera's Back," definitely relates to the Man In Purple. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Wicked Witch attempts to stuff Ornette Coleman harmolodic grooves into the emerging electro sounds of the day. It's a confounding mix that yields more with each listen. (EM)