[aural time-slip]Rozz Williams – Every King a Bastard Son


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

One for the private moments in a person’s life. This album has been in my hidden stash of favorites pretty much since it came out. At the time it was released, Rozz was riding high off of the adulation of Shadow Project but he stayed true to his experimental side by composing what claims on the cover to be spoken word but is in truth a far more disturbing and complex piece of work than a mere microphone could sum up.

None of the goths I knew liked this record, despite being huge fans of Christian Death they could not get their heads around what was going on here no matter how hard they tried. Oh it’s all fine and dandy when there’s a catchy beat going on but when the harsh realities of Williams’ life shone through? His solo debut got sent to the corner often. Who wants to hear about the scummy, unkempt, degenerate and diseased underside of fame? How perverse… and how perfect.

He was the type of artist who thrived on confrontation and for whom controversy was the definition of success. Rather than just give the punters what they wanted, Rozz assembled a group of musicians to try and depict in aural form what hell was really like. No fire, no brimstone, no imbecile with a pitchfork oh no this was worse. Far far worse. Holding nothing back, he described in excruciating detail a litany of horror and abuse. All at the hands of the ones you trusted and placed your faith in.

I own some fairly strange things but ‘Every King a Bastard Son’ quite easily eclipses the lot; I’d have loved to have been that fly on the wall while they were making it. The sound choices, the stifling production, the sickening realization that this is what reality is behind the makeup and clever costumes. Infamy is a fickle mistress but Rozz pretty much married her by taking the route he did. Trust me, in 1992 nobody else would have dared to attempt this level of misanthropy.

The cynical nature of his words punctured holes in a person’s psyche. These characters he wrote about had nothing redeeming to them, at best they were drowning in vitriol and at their worst… dear god at their worst. To say he was on the edge of sanity is an understatement. I’d play this monster and feel as though I was the one being raped, or tortured, or mutilated. He somehow managed to reduce humanity to its base nature. No lies, no bullshit, no comforting fairytales about some invisible man waiting to reward you in death.

The blackest bile spewed out of the speakers the first time I heard this and even now I hesitate to play it when I’m alone. I was already set against religion but ‘Every King a Bastard Son’ sealed the deal without any need for further discussion. I don’t use the word deranged lightly but you could certainly call this disc that; a landmark truly, it makes you realize just how safe most are playing it these days, even in the underground.

One of the more intruiging facets to this creature is how many times I’ve heard bits of it sampled by others over the years. They’re never the same bits, either and those who utilize them cover a wide spectrum in terms of their own music. I can only conclude that our Mr. Painter hit upon something which has led to this obscure long player becoming something of a touchstone.

I can count how many of those I’ve come across on one hand so good show Rozz. A very fucking good show.

Sadly, the man only had six years of life left by this point and though he followed this up with another solo record in 1996 there was no way it could equal what he’d done here. If you’re wondering what the high water mark of his career is, now you know. A secret little hoard of grotesque beauties done under his own name, right out in the open; refusing to hide and apologizing to no one. ‘Every King a Bastard Son’ is an uncompromising masterpiece by one of the twentieth century’s leading literary minds.

We miss you, my friend.

Rozz WilliamsEvery King a Bastard Son
Cleopatra, CLEO58532
CD 1992

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