Music: Wastin' Away Again Down in Vacaville

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, November 1995

Music: Wastin' Away Again Down in Vacaville
By Mike Steere

And the award for the most shameless and unprecedentedly obscene use of the environment for marketing purposes goes to...White Devil Records of Seattle. Along with its recently released CD of recordings made in prison by convicted homicidal celebrity Charles Manson, the company sends this flackery: "A number of tracks display Manson's concerns for ecological conditions." Hello? Has Mr. Helter Skelter been spending more time in the great outdoors than we'd care to know about? Admittedly, Manson does get sentimental about the planet on a few tracks. "Like a leaf that's high on a tree, a summer flower, or just a cocoon," he croons in the oddly sweet "Be Free (Be to Be Free)." But it never lasts long, and soon Manson's yowling about blowing your head off.

All the songs were taped at Manson's early-1980s home in California's Vacaville Medical Facility. His bouncier numbers would evoke Jimmy Buffett, had the Margaritavillean spent more of his beach time in solitary. Manson's acoustic guitar work, thick with Delta-blues undertones and the only accompaniment to his husky singing, is surprisingly competent. You might put a dollar in the tip bucket if he were playing your favorite resort-town bar. Then again, if you thought too hard about the lyrics--"an old truck that was loaded with parts of bodies, going through the night"--you might hastily excuse yourself, avoiding eye contact with the entertainer at all costs.

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