Myn Ynd Wymyn

Uncle Bonsai

1992: Yellow Tail Records YT-10003

  1. The Voice of God
  2. Men and Women
  3. Doug at His Mom’s
  4. Womb for Rent
  5. K-Mart
  6. Bedroom Eyes
  7. Midas Touch
  8. Folk Song
  9. Family Restaurant
  10. Julie Andrews
  11. Another Fat Song
  12. Takin’ the Kids to Disney World
  13. Then God Made Malls
  14. Me and Mrs Middle America
  15. Big Chihuahua
  16. Women With a “Y” (Womyn)
  17. Making Fun of Foreigners

Probably my favorite track on this bewilderingly good album (aside from “Enterprising Young Man,” which was on the original cassette but is included on The InEssential Uncle Bonsai CD instead of this one) is “Womb For Rent,” because of the vocal arrangement: Ratshin has distributed the harmonic pieces in such unexpected and dynamic ways that I still listen to it in disbelief that there are three people pulling off those jewel-like flashes of precision (sometimes it sounds like just two, sometimes more). “Takin’ the Kids to Disney World” is another standout track, but really almost everything on this CD is hypnotically high-quality. But on “Womb For Rent,” things reach their acme of intertwining beauty in the fourth verse (with “No kickers, please” at its start). (For that matter, I should bow to Ratshin for having hit on such a poignantly and versatile emotional chord sequence.)

Well, that’s entirely too vague an appraisal for such sideswiping excellence…and lordy knows I have strong opinions about most of the tracks on this album.

I must begin the elaboration with “Another Fat Song,” the title of which may be slightly provocative but gives no hint of the song’s actual topic (liposuction) nor its firepower (significant, especially given the zingers flying left and right in the lyrics). It would be a disservice to this track to quote anything but the entire song, but for anyone who’s not heard this song I’ll just mention this sequence: “Why should someone worry about eating in a hurry when the caramel and the curry can be cut away? / Why not stuff your faces if you know that there are places that can surgically erase your every Milky Way?” (Keep in mind that this pair of lines is delivered in approximately seven seconds of simultaneous singing in three parts.)

Also, the harmonies in “Another Fat Song” are charming, maybe even a little tantalizing, on superficial hearing…but when you stop to really listen to what’s going on you may well be amazed because of the deft acrobatics Ratshin plugged into them right and left. Even fragments of words are utilized to effect, and the way each verse starts in a tight rat-a-tat of solo-sung syllables and unfurls into chords and then choruses is truly glorious and thrilling. The pointedly unresolved chord the song ends on is in itself a statement backing the lyrics; it’s just marvelous craft, I must emphasize. And that chord not only echoes certain other such nuances on this album but is also a reminder (to me, anyway) of that edgy creativity of the times in Seattle and perhaps elsewhere.

Although I cherish this album, I have to allow myself to play any of its tracks with some guarding, because the sound and acuity of the songs so intensely takes me to their time of origin that personal baggage and sociohistorical overtones come right along for the ride; sometimes that’s just ambient, but sometimes that’s unnervingly restorative of then-contemporary perspectives that are hard to relive now (then was enough). Transcending that concern is my awe of Ratshin’s vocal arrangements on nearly every track here: there are bits on so many tracks that just tug and tease and twist one’s emotions through little shifts and alignments of sung notes, and they elicit responses in me from delighted cackles to inarticulate empathic surges.