Paralyzed!: His Vintage Recordings 1968-1981

EM 1061CD EM 1061CD

Killer presentation of the earliest recordings of this Texas hero, including all 4 of his singles for the Mercury label, cut in the late '60s. Also including unreleased tracks and the 1984 album, Rock-it To Stardum. Typically great EM Records booklet with old photos and lyrics, etc. It might be the weirdest piece of music ever committed to tape in Fort Worth. On "Paralyzed," an explosion of madness recorded at Sound City Studios on Camp Bowie Boulevard in 1968, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy thrashes away at a single guitar chord over a rudimentary two-beat, tunelessly bellowing indecipherable lyrics and whooping like an Indian in an old Western movie. In the middle of the song, there's a drum solo that sounds like someone dropping trash cans down a flight of stairs, followed by a blatting bugle. The pandemonium starts up again only to subside, like the end of an epileptic seizure. Hearing the song for the first time is disorienting, to say the least. Its impact is both hilarious and primal. Norman Carl Odam is an unlikely musical hero. That's the name the Lege's parents gave him when he was born, in Lubbock in 1947. But since high school, he's called himself the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. He has an extremely limited vocal range, has trouble singing in time, and can barely play his instruments. Yet, some surprising people like him. Chameleon-like British rocker David Bowie based his Ziggy Stardust character on the Lege after receiving a copy of "Paralyzed" from Mercury Records upon signing with the label in 1968. Bowie even covered Odam's song "I Took a Trip (On A Gemini Spaceship)" on his 2002 Heathen CD. Joe Ely, who grew up with Odam in Lubbock, has said that his old friend "might be the greatest jazz musician ever to come out of West Texas." Ely's claim sounds preposterous, but it's still indicative of a degree of bewildered admiration. As for Norman Odam, these days he works as a night watchman in a Santa Clara bank. His current band -- bassist Klaus Fluoride (formerly of San Francisco punk originators, the Dead Kennedys), guitarist Jay Rosen, and Meyers -- works regularly around the Bay Area and even played a show in France with punk-era figures Alan Vega, Lydia Lunch, and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Odam's been featured in Songs in the Key of Z, Irwin Chusid's book on "outsider" music, and Lubbock Lights, a documentary about his homeboys the Flatlanders.