Inside/ Outside USA
Santa Barbara-based new music group Headless Household released it's second full-length recording, Inside/Outside USA in 1993. The 14-song package is expectedly all over the map in terms of style, attitude, and mental wardrobe. Here, jazz, pop, folk, funk, free improvisation, cabaret, surf, C&W, polka, and other musical directions freely co-mingle. Keyboardist Dick Dunlap, guitarist Joe Woodard, bassist Chris Symer, and drummer-percussionist Tom Lackner formed the band in 1983. Their debut album on the Household Ink label, Headless Household, was released in 1987 to favorable response on the cultural fringes. Jas Obrecht, of Guitar Player, called it "strange, cool rumblings from Southern California." A two-song Christmas tape soon followed, of which Mark Hanson from Frets wrote "Holy host, Batman! Are these guys for real? You might call this recording 'Christmas in the Zappa Neighborhood' or 'Sledding in the Santa Barbara Snow.' This is experimental Christmas music to say the least." Gathering their wits and willpower, the band recorded Inside/Outside USA over a three-week period at Area 52 studio, inviting several special guests along for the ride. Glen Phillips (vocalist from Toad the Wet Sprocket and Glen Phillips), sings on the faux folk number, "Woe to Him (Who Builds His House on Salty Sand)." Violinist Gilles Apap contributes to the cracked country western ditty, "Denver Umlaut." Vocalist Ellen Turner is the dream queen on the art pop song "Wintering in Heaven," and Arlene Dunlap adds impressionistic vocals to "Ballad for Bonnard's Wife." Trumpeter Jeff Elliott, currently with Les McCann, plays on "Mayor's Send-Off," a requiem for drummer Tony Moreno. Trumpeter/singer Nate Birkey is the focus of "I Can't Remember the Words," and saxist John Schnackenberg adds his two bits to "Johnny's Johnny" and "Trouble in Whoville." The Household chases down other muses, as well. Funk is the force behind "Free James Brown." Post-Beach Boy mutations occur on "Sufferin' USA." Ethnic-eclectic mayhem makes "I'll Think About It" worth thinking about. "Rhumba in Kuwait" and "Breadwinner's Procession" indulges in brooding, flecked by unhinged free improv. With the wide-ranging but concentrated statement made by Inside/Outside USA, Headless Household hoped to further clarify and/or discover why they got into this mess in the first place. Time may still tell.