We Want the Funk

Underrated local talent Eddie Fisher finally sees his work released on CD, while KWUR celebrates its own week

A to Z is fascinated by the out-of-print music market on eBay. We mean, who would pay $100 for a Motels CD that doesn't have "Only the Lonely" on it? Or who would drop $76 for a CD featuring Justine Bateman singing (that's the soundtrack to Satisfaction, an '80s flick in which she starred)?

Then again, the most expensive items often are actually worth the money. In fact, we looked on with interest when we discovered an original out-of-print LP from psych-jazz-funk innovator Eddie Fisher, titled Eddie Fisher & The Next One Hundred Years, that sold for $41.76 in recent weeks.

When we caught up with Fisher (see "Loving Cup," April 17, 2002) via phone at his home in Centreville, Illinois, he told A to Z that, surprisingly, the figure was down from the recent "couple hundred bucks" people had been paying. So why the sudden drop in price?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that One Hundred Years just received an official reissue release on CD, thanks to Verve Records, a subsidiary of Universal. Originally released in 1971 on Cadet Records, the album was lost in release delays and label problems back then but has since become something of a cult item in jazz circles.

"In the past year and a half, there's been a lot of things that had been happening," Fisher relates. "Universal finally came to realize, ‘Hey, maybe there's something to this thing.' They found there were critics from all over the place [talking about his music] — Japan, Australia. Places I had never heard of — I didn't even know where Belize was!

"Some of the reviews, they were humbling. One critic compared the stuff we did on The Next Hundred Years album, to, say, ‘This is what Jimi Hendrix would have sounded like if he lived.'" Fisher laughs. "And I said, ‘Whoa, that's kind of a stretch.'"

Before the reissue, bootleg copies of Years and Fisher's equally sought-after album The Third Cup were common, since the originals were so hard to find (Fisher himself didn't even own a copy of Cup and had to pay $60 to buy one on eBay). But the garrulous Fisher — an inductee into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2004 — still seems rather overwhelmed by all of the attention he's receiving now.

"I hate the term ‘before its time,' because that means that I'll be dead by the time it does anything," Fisher says with a chuckle, referring to his music. "But that seems to be kind of the attitude. And when people keep saying that, I'm not even really sure how to respond. Naturally I thank them for it. But it's just a roller coaster."

Fisher's topsy-turvy ride, though, shows no signs of ending. He says a reissue of Cup is also in the works, and he's working on a proper release of a series of recordings called Once Upon a Time in East St. Louis that was recorded in the early 1970s but never came out.

Fisher will be promoting the album at Vintage Vinyl on Saturday, February 18, at 4 p.m.

www.kwurweek.com) beginning Monday, February 20. Besides bringing stellar national acts — MC Lars (see Critics' Picks), Of Montreal and the Appleseed Cast — to the Gargoyle, the aim of the week is to let the campus know what a gem it has.

"The community's been pretty receptive to KWUR, but my big push has [been] to get students involved, too," notes promotions director Elliot Darvick. "KWUR Week, this is so huge for us. It's a way to get students out to a show, show them the music we're playing on air."

But with terrestrial radio stations losing ground to iPods and online radio streams (not to mention KWUR's tiny, ten-watt signal), why isn't the station doing more to compete with the latest sonic advancements, such as implementing podcasts?

KWUR's crystal-clear online stream is a start, but A to Z would love to see its dedication to diverse programming and independent music — from new tunes to golden oldies — have a stronger presence in the city.

Although the station is limited by finances and has a hard time getting students involved, Darvick wants KWUR's profile to be higher. In fact, he assures us that KWUR is in the middle of a "huge technical overhaul" right now. The coming months will see the return of archived playlists (as well as the "last ten songs played" feature) on the station's Web site (www.kwur.com), as well as better-sequenced automated hours — and, if technical specifications can be worked out, podcasting.

Hey, DJs! Want to earn a chance to spin at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami during the Winter Music Conference in March? The deadline is drawing near! Send your best mix CDs to: Annie Zaleski, Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. The deadline for submissions is tomorrow, February 17, with a spin-off among the finalists the following week. We'll keep you posted on developments.

Catch A to Z DJing at Lemmons (5800 Gravois Avenue; 314-481-4812) this Saturday, February 18, starting at 9 p.m. We'll be playing the best power-pop, Britpop, synthpop, indie-pop and post-punk-pop — all culled, as usual, from our old-school ten-gig iPod.