Wazmo Nariz

  • Wazmo Nariz
  • The E.P. (Fiction) 1979 
  • Things Aren't Right (Illegal/IRS) 1979 
  • Tell Me How to Live (Big) 1980 

On record, Chicago’s Wazmo Nariz (Larry Grennan) mixes witty double entendres and a semi-jaundiced, semi-naïve view of the mysteries of sex with solid songwriting and unusual vocal gyrations, backed by an excellent band. The result is offbeat Midwestern pop: “Tele-tele-telephone” (an independent single eventually reissued in the UK by Stiff) and “Checking Out the Checkout Girl,” contained on Things Aren’t Right. (The album has no overlap with the preceding four-song 7-inch EP.)

Tell Me How to Live varies Nariz’s style with parodies (the Presleyesque “Don’t Say Always, If You Mean Never”) and anthems (“Welcome to the Eighties, Ladies”). Despite a wealth of talent and wild humor, Nariz fell between niches — too bizarre to be pop, too pop to be avant-garde — and the band dissolved amid financial worries and critical apathy.

[Steven Grant]