She's back - after 23 years in the shadows. Huge, sexy, a juggernaut of stunning idiocy and murder-glee genius, Big Gurl has returned to conquer all electronic reading devices and human brains. For exactly the same price as the original paperback edition, this underground classic is now available to any who dare enter its turgid and tainted depths.
"Big Gurl is the prose equivalent of R. Crumb and S. Clay Wilson stoned on evil speed and Sterno." - Hakim Bey
Glam rock had two crypto-Mormons: Mick Ronson and Arthur Killer Kane. The Osmond Brothers on the other hand were up front about their religio-sexual orientation. Five squeaky-teen heartthrob guys with gleaming teeth and big hair, they released their Plan in the middle of glam's greatest year.
White and shiny as mayonnaise, the Osmonds had been dominating the charts since 1970. After a run of massively successful albums, though, they wanted to stretch out and to tell the Latter Day Saint story through song. So they retired to their private musical sanctum (Kolob Studies in Los Angeles - named after God's home-planet) and came up with this Great Hetero Mormon Mini-opera Concept Album.
There's a lot less bubble-gum here than on their earlier records, which explains why it did so poorly with the fans. Not many twelve year old non-LDS girls with the hots for Donny wanted to hear about pre-mortal existence and the end of the world.
As a concept album, it starts predictably with the jingle of Asian bells, ancient flutes, mysterioso harp plinking and voices floating from channel to channel. Mostly though, the album is slick radio-friendly pop with a few nods toward glam.
God's mysterious plan keeps coming up, though it's never made explicit. Heaven gets mentioned. Heavenly Father and the Mormon prophet Joe Smith remain in the shadows, or are far above, orbiting around earth. Like Bowie's Aladdin Sane and Jobriath himself, the singer on "Goin' Home" is a "space man from a different land" and he needs to return.
The first track is "War in Heaven" and at the end we learn about "The Last Days." Even in the sappiest love song on the album, "Darlin,'" the Osmonds manage to slide in some LDS theology. Like other songs on this revelation-drenched slab of vinyl, "Darlin'" mixes up romance and revelation. "There's no end if I'm with you," the boys sing with their hormone-hyped voices. Clearly, they're excited about something. But what? True love? True religion? "Let Me In" is the most disturbing track. Twisting together spirituality and sleazy seduction, it's one of the best God-is-my-girlfriend songs ever recorded.
Some songs are so oblique that even Mormon initiates can't pierce their glistening surface. Featuring a funky Jew's harp and squealy harmonica, "Mirror, Mirror" condemns some nameless other-self who'll "step on those who kiss your feet," and ends with the warning "you can't fool me."
For those in the know, the line "as we would be, he once was" is straight out of Mormon theology. If we just accept the teachings of the whitest religion in the world, we all can become gods and have our own planet, as gloriously snazzy as Kolob. There's real endless power waiting for the Mormon faithful. When the Osmonds sing "we control infinity" they mean it as literal truth.
At the center is the symbol - hanging in space, half cross and half meat hook. Some claim it's made up of three exclamation points and an upside down question mark. Those with unfogged minds understand it to be the sign of Saturn, or Kronos, whose metal is lead and whose element is time itself.
In the grim days of Nixon and his carpet-bombing of Vietnam, while the Weather Underground waged its counter-bombing assault on America, during Apollo's last mysteriously abortive missions to the moon, this symbol was the closest a mainstream record label could come to putting a swastika on an album cover. To every teenaged Blue Oyster Cult fan, however, it was no secret. The sign stood unmistakably for outer space rock and roll fascismus.
The band's original name - "Soft White Underbelly" - was coined by Winston Churchill to describe fascist Italy, the vulnerable nether-region of Europe. It suggests too, the unprotected abdomen of the killer dinosaur, or the vastness of some trans-galactic egg-sac floating in the void. Conceived by their producer as America's answer to Black Sabbath, the renamed Blue Oyster Cult later joined forces with these English kings of downer rock on the infamous Black and Blue Tour.
The cover for Blue Oyster Cult's second album, Tyranny and Mutation, features a stark, geometrical black and white landscape like a Nuremberg rally site as conceived and birthed by robots. No humans, no torchlight parades, but the same emptiness and soulless fervor. And a weird celestial glow: the Kronos cross hanging on the horizon like a black, arcane sunrise. A few lurid slices are added to the palette for this album cover, finishing the scheme: black, white and red, the colors of Imperial Germany.
Musically, heavy metal already existed. It's all there on Black Sabbath's Paranoid album. But while Ozzie shrieks like a horror movie demon, the Oyster Boys use a more menacing, breathy whisper-croon. Ozzie's predicable satanic imagery and the lumbering behemoth riffs make a joke of Sabbath's dread-mongering. B-O'Cult are more oblique, more skewed and shrewd.
All gothic goes back to Germany and weird gothic touches lurk in these grooves - "flights of black horsemen" soaring over churches, "a harvest of life, a harvest of death." Even "Lucifer the light" makes an appearance. B-O'Cult is of course Germanic, with their mutant swastika, the very first heavy metal umlaut and hymns of praise to Luftwaffe jet planes. But this is still an American nightmare, not a faked-up olde worlde terror-fest. Yes, strange female presences float in the shadows. We'll never know, though, whether "Baby Ice Dog" is human or canine. Or what exactly the "Teen Archer" is aiming her arrows at. Or why is the "Mistress of the Salmon Salt" also called "The Quicklime Girl?"
On first hearing, "Hot Rails to Hell" might be just another badass heavy metal howl, proclaiming that "the heat from below can burn your eyes out." The world of this song is, however, no lapsed Euro-Catholic's Lake of Fire. The hellbound train is pure America - high tech, huge and heavy, enormous with energy, a smoking, steel-rumbling joyride that ends with a surf guitar bass plummet right out of the Ventures' "Pipeline."
Tyranny and Mutation: is there a better description of the American teenage boy's inner landscape? Tyranny: repression of impulse. Mutation: terrifying biological change. Tyranny and Mutation: are there two words which so well evoke the battle between wildness and control, the convulsive fear and joy at the heart of the adolescent's world?