Monday, October 6, 2008

Orson Welles: The Begatting of the President

The Begatting of the President. Orson Welles. United Artists, 1969, UAS-5521. This was also available in book form.
What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent:
During the Nixon era, Welles provoked another round of scrutiny by the IRS when he narrated a laboriously satirical record about Nixon told as a faux biblical tale, The Begatting of the President (1969). For a while that harassment drove him back overseas. Welles ran afoul of the IRS again in the early 1970s when it seized money paid to his compnay in Switzerland for an unfinished TV special he had been directing for CBS in 1968-70, Orson's Bag. He considered his company a production company, but the IRS ruled it a holding company. That tax problem led CBS to cancel the show and also caused difficulties with the funding of his feature The Other Sode of the Wind.

From Orson Welles: Rise and Fall of an American Genius:
Back in Hollywood, Welles made a phonograph record, The Begatting of the President, that ran into a storm of controversy. Brought out by Mediarts, it was banned by Metromedia stations and broadcast mainly on FM stations. The record was a bold onslaught on Richard Nixon, delivered in a quasi-biblical mode ("A little child shall be born in a grocery store in Whittier, and he shall sit upon the throne, and his administration shall be established greatly. Now the begatting of Richard Nixon was in this wise...") Welles won a Grammy for the record

I've been sitting on this for a few weeks trying to figure out how to explain why it doesn't work for me. Maybe it's just the preponderance of overly cute lines like "...Tet. And it was offensive" and "Loe, their portions were niggardly." Maybe it's the line readings Orson Welles gives that nods and winks to us that he's about to read one of these overly cute lines. I kinda like comedy driven by anger at the status quo, this, however, is smugness directed at the squares. Worth a chuckle, nothing more.

There's a slight warp in the record that affects the first part of track 1 on both sides. Other than that, pretty good quality.

Side 1
  1. L.B. Jenesis
  2. The Defoilation of Eden
  3. Burn, Pharoah, Burn
  4. The Coming of Richard

Side 2
  1. The Pacification of Goliath
  2. Paradise Bossed
  3. The Raising of Richard
  4. The Book of Hubert
  5. The Ascension

No comments: