Charles Douglas: Not Your Kind of Music (The Basement Tapes 1995-1999)
Lo-fi rock'n'roll pop visionary deserves a closer listen
There’s a strong chance that you’ve never heard of Charles Douglas, a lo-fi rock’n’roll pop visionary in the vanishing 90s mould of Robert Pollard and Daniel Johnston. Pursuing an innate belief that he could match his hero Prince in both songwriting chops and the possibilities of mega-stardom, Douglas was briefly signed to a major label, yet mental health problems, plus a ruinous excess of whatever could be smoked or snorted saw Douglas recording an avalanche of songs (he claims to have recorded five albums in one year alone) in his parents’ basement, which he had to either release himself or see put out by a tiny indie label, to a dearth of attention.
Over two discs and 67 songs, this reissue of four of these subterranean missives is an addictive, goofy, charming and exhausting listen. Douglas’ insistent melodies are mostly bubblegum in the richest sense, while the rawness of the eight-track recordings keeps the songs free of fat.
The accompanying booklet contains Douglas’ desperately honest and self-deprecating autobiography of the period, with detailed geneses of every song. There were a hell of a lot of basement tapes being made around this time from stoners who loved Steely Dan as much as they did Jandek, but Charles Douglas deserves a closer look.