While technically this is a video review, that corner of the WhatzUp market is sewn up and due to union non-compete regulations, I am forced to seek my tax write-off in the Spins section. But it's a music video (and I use that term as loosely as my bowels after drinking 901 cups of steaming java) so I feel somewhat justified.
The Swirling Eddies is the reincarnation of the highly influential (yet poorly selling) alternative Christian band Daniel Amos, a band who knows the marketing value of changing their name every few years. Back in 1989 with the anticipation of the release of their second album, Outdoor Elvis, someone associated with the band realized that they had yet to lose money by creating a video, and thus Spittle and Phlegm was expectorated.
Now I don't mean to startle you, dear gentle reader, but Spittle and Phlegm was low-fi (no-fi?) when released on VHS in 1989, having been produced with all the best video technology that 1978 could offer. To have this selection re-released on DVD with no digital visual cleansing is a mockery of everything for which the digital format stands. I say, "Play on!"
The "plot" of the hour-long video is that the band is looking for a new front man. Camarillo Eddy (a.k.a. Terry Taylor who exudes a kind of Chevy Chase charisma) narrates as the viewer is dragged screaming through a series of "contestants" who are actually the worst, most gawd-awful selections from the video archives of whoever filmed this (yes, these are real people who have paid to be filmed and no, they don't know their footage was hijacked for this travesty- lovers of local cable access take note). There's lounge singer Nick Deletchi doing his schtick at a west-coast Denny's, the jubilant Presty Gomez, some heavily oiled mass of muscles who has a problem with the music that's being played, and the annoyingly grating Rockabye Sweetheart, a little girl sure to ingratiate herself into your next counseling session. These are but a few of the odd and disturbingly real characters who will be jammed down your retinas during the adventure.
The only thing that remotely approaches a traditional music video is a concept segment for their song "I've Got An Idea". Here the faces of the six members are chopped, faded, melded, and discombobulated into some of the most disturbing footage I've seen since that reverse vasectomy operation marathon on the Discovery channel, all while lip-syncing the lyrics of the song. Shave or get corrective dental surgery beforehand? Surely you jest! After viewing just this brief video I experienced increased nasal discharge, lip tremors, embiggened forehead, and pasty formless hands (actually, those are but a few of the consequences viewers are promised if they illegally distribute the video). It was only after watching the entire video that I realized that this is no fan club video… it is a cry for help.
A few bonus items are included that were not on the original video. The first is something that was sent to fan club members who ordered the video where Camarillo apologizes for the delay in sending them the video they ordered. In typical no budget fashion, a solitary fly buzzes around the camera lights, and then Camarillo lip-syncs a song from their then upcoming album, bobbing his head in a somewhat enthusiastic fashion and occasionally taking a drink from his giant beverage during the verse. The other "bonus" is footage that was filmed for the 700 Club where Camarillo takes a life-sized cardboard cutout of Pat Robertson to Cornerstone, the nation's premier alternative Christian music festival. Here "Pat" crowd surfs at a death metal concert, visits a port-o-potty, kisses a cardboard cutout of Spock, and tries an Ostrich Burger. For the life of me I just don't understand why this segment was never aired.
I cannot stress this final point enough: DO NOT waste your money on this DVD. DO NOT go to www.danielamos.com and order this travesty. Yes, it brought some much needed levity to my life and had me laughing until various internal organs ruptured but I am a seasoned professional. Do not try watching this video at home as I ensure you will only end up confused, bewildered, and $20 poorer.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, September 2002.