10/20/2015

Lost and Found: 'Teenage Sex Therapist'

OWEN MAERCKS
Teenage Sex Therapist
[Feeding Tube Records - 2014]

Being a dedicated music artist is like standing on a street corner asking the passerby if they are interested in having a conversation about a topic near and dear to you. If you’re lucky, a crowd of like-minded folk will gather to hear what you have to say. But more often the not, they won’t be interested in the topic and/or your delivery or in all likelihood won’t even stop to ask what it is you’re going on about. Hindsight might make clear you had nothing interesting or substantive to communicate, but when it’s actually the opposite and you’re ignored for reasons both fickle and frail, that’s gotta hurt.

In 1978 Maercks’ Teenage Sex Therapist went dramatically unheard or, alternately, unloved among those who had the opportunity to hear it. Yes, his Beefhart-ian take on post-punk/new wave wasn’t going to climb the charts, then or now. But this was accessible, workman-like art rock that deep down was catchy as fuck. Surely it would’ve found an audience had it gotten the right attention, particularly at a time when kindred spirits such the B-52s were just a year away with their own outside-the-norm statement of musical purpose. But it was not to be.

Aside from Maercks himself, we have noted guitarist—and former Maercks bandmate in Monster Island—Henry Kaiser, to thank for the existence of Teenage Sex Therapist, having gotten Maercks up to Monterrey, CA to record the album over a few days with a band Kaiser selected and rehearsed in advance. (No Skyping or prior exchange of files, kiddies—remember, this was 1978.) Because of Kaiser’s involvement—and, let’s face it, the vagaries of life and the lottery-like aspect of the Internet—Maercks’ lone release has now found a home in the record collections of quite a few sympathetic fans, having gotten a proper release by the Massachusetts-based Feeding Tube Records. For those of us who missed its wonderful courtship with brilliance the first time around, discovering Teenage Sex Therapist is a source of both joy and reaffirmation: the former is self-explanatory; the latter lies in the hope that great music eventually finds an audience, especially while its creator is around to bask in the somewhat muted glow. 

Highlights: Nary a duff track here but “Sleeping With Great Works of Art”, “Information”, “Asleep and Awake”, “Nancy Calls Collect”, “Hoh!” and “Intense Young Man” deserve special attention.

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