In the summer of 1983, when I first rang the doorbell at WFMU, it was Terry Folger who answered the door. He was music director at the time, and seemed to be the only person there. I was starting classes at Upsala that coming fall and was interested in getting involved with the station. Terry gave me a little tour of the studios and offices (situated at that time in the basement beneath the freshman dorm in Froeberg Hall), and we didn't meet again until classes started, Terry also being an Upsala student at the time. At that first meeting, I was sporting shoulder-length hair and a full beard, and Terry would later confide in me that he thought I must have been some sort of "classic rock freak." We quickly became good friends, drinking and talking for hours at a time in one another's dorm rooms.
Terry often encouraged me to start doing a show on the air, and I finally began my on-air tenure at WFMU in March of 1984. Sitting in on Terry's shows was always a treat for me, and I learned so much by just watching him test his own limits (and the patience of then-station manager Bruce Longstreet) and by observing the emotional transformations (and sometimes collapses) he would go through while on the air. Terry was also the first person to play me The Minutemen, Wire, No New York, James Blood Ulmer and Lester Bowie, as well as introducing me to the work of so-called "decadent" writers like Alfred Jarry (a passion that I pursue to this day.)
Lest he be remembered mostly for his infamous 1980 jump from the roof of the Hotel Chelsea and his untimely passing in 1994 from AIDS-related illness, I must add that I think of Terry often, and when I do it's his comic misanthropy, his abstract and bileful wit, his passions for NY baseball, subversive literature and unusual music, his writing and songwriting, his predictions of the coming "econo-cataclysm," and his capacities for free association and psychedelics consumption that most define him in my memories. All of these exceptional qualities are on full display with this tape, which was not so much a "release" as a tape he made in a various configurations over the years for different people. While Terry would some years later form the combo Van Gelder, these early solo recordings (many of them done via primitive multitracking in WFMU's old production studio) are hilarious, bizarre, gut-bearing blasts of idiosyncrasy. If there's one point I've been trying to make in this series of posts, it's that home recording at its best gives the listener a microscopic view into the mind and soul of the artist, a view that is most often diluted when professional studio recording comes into play. This tape by my old friend Terry certainly bears that out.
Highlights of this tape include: a few WFMU station-related promos; early versions of the mini-classics "Whose Birthday Is It?" and "Here Comes Fred"; the mind-bending "Clean Your Genitalia/The Undertaker's Instructions"; two versions of the song "Where's Kerouac When You Need Him?"; "Naked" (an R. Stevie Moore cover); and two tracks from Terry's slushy blues-piano alter ego, Ol' Prik McTig. Hope you enjoy. (Note: Where tracks ran together on the original cassette, they have been ripped as a single mp3.)