You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story (Plexifilm)

BY Steven Rosen | Posted 07/23/2008 You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story

BY Steven Rosen | Posted 07/23/2008

You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story

2008, Not Rated

Gary Wilson's self-released 1977 album, You Think You Really Know Me, is prized by record collectors constantly in search of Rock's "great lost masterpieces." It's included as a CD in this two-disc package, along with a documentary by Michael Wolk about the life and rediscovery of Wilson and the recent re-release of the album by the hipster label Motel Records. By the standards of other experimental bands of the era, like Pere Ubu or Suicide or Captain Beefheart, Wilson wasn't all that accomplished or mature — his music was a goofy mix of obsessive teen-angst chanting informed by an interest in John Cage and fusion-era Miles Davis. That's probably what makes it so unusual and endearing in a bizarre way: silliness intermingled with weirdness. As we learn (through Wolk's eyes) about his life, we begin to suspect Wilson has become a social burnout since 1977 — he left hometown Endicott, N.Y., and apparently never returned, even to visit his father and band mates, who are interviewed. Once the film finds him in San Diego, now middle-aged and working as a clerk in an adult bookstore, our worst fears seem confirmed. Except that Wilson turns out to be an in-control guy, surprisingly circumspect about his music and his life. He's also unemotional and enigmatic. At a visit to his family home, he's more interested in his old stand-up bass than his dad! The film, which expertly combines Wilson's old home movies with clips from horror films that influenced him, is very well put-together. It shows only snippets of his recent performances — organized by Motel in support of the CD — in Manhattan and Endicott. They look like fun, with him in horror-movie-like makeup; it would have been nice to have more. Grade: B

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