Music

Ten years “Wet”

andrew wk

I Get Wet (Reissue)

Andrew WK

Release Date: Aug 28, 12

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Ten years ago, a sweaty man who appeared to only own one outfit (a nondescript white T-shirt and equally white jeans) released a record, the cover of which was deemed inappropriate for polite big box stores the world over. This was despite its insides containing the sort of triumphantly upbeat, endlessly up-to-11 sonic assault that fans of the 80s’ most excessive offerings wish would never have fallen out of fashion. The skinny man with the bloody face had his moment in the sun, his party anthems taking over MTV and an NFL season or two before being forgotten by a populace that had regrettably learned to take such earnest music with a heaping side dose of irony. Critics would shun him, and soon he would primarily perform and release in Japan and other countries who could understand him, seeing the cathartic beauty in what he so singularly does.

The rest of the tale of Andrew WK is history. The MTV2 show in which he babysat fans’ children, the unlimited lifetime gift card for Taco Bell, the most positive (and hilarious) Twitter account on the internet. WK has become a full-blown cult hero in the U.S., especially after leaving to do things like tour as a motivational speaker or record a covers album of the Gundam soundtrack, obviously in party metal form. His most lasting contribution, though, is still I Get Wet, the debut album that gave fraternity houses the nation over a righteous anthem in “Party Hard.” Somehow, I Get Wet is already ten years old, and Century Media’s reissue includes not only the album (fully intact, as the production is so perfectly over-the-top that any more or any less would be disruptive), but also demo versions of most of the album from 1999 (a few years before the release) and live versions from this year’s anniversary tour.

The live versions are crisply recorded, if a bit muddy; WK in live form is so loud and so raucous that it’s hard to fully capture the eardrum-shattering impact of any of his material in that medium. That said, given the wall of noise that is a WK show, it’s easier than you might expect to distinguish his voice from the four-guitar setup. The demos are far more interesting, WK’s vocals significantly cleaner on “Girls Own Love” and “It’s Time To Party,” the latter of which wisely cut out an extended intro; the album version really benefits from diving right into the proceedings. A “keyboards,” instrumental-only version of “Got To Do It” sounds like it’s played on a pipe organ in a church, and is every bit as grandiose and surprisingly moving as that sounds. The only reissue contribution that’s not an alternate version of an I Get Wet track, actually, is a cover of “Fun Night,” retitled “It Just Got Hotter.” It’s rewritten for the Arizona Sundogs, a double-A minor league hockey team, because why not?

There’s a sense of overcoming odds to be taken away from the existence of a 10th anniversary reissue of I Get Wet, the crowning moment for a guy who talks about puking and partying a lot and believes that every moment in life is the most important and essential moment lived to that moment, or that will ever be lived. Andrew WK has become more than just a purveyor of party metal, though. He’s a figurehead for the importance of loving, losing, winning, bottoming out, rising up, fucking, making love, marrying, spawning, doing, thinking, saying, moving, overcoming and surviving with every fiber of your being. And for all the derisive labeling by many of the current generation as the “anything is possible” generation, there still aren’t a lot of artists who kick off a song called “Ready To Die” by saying that “The whole point of this day is how lucky we are to be alive.” We are indeed, and we need an Andrew WK to remind us of this more than we might think.

  • Chris Osterndorf

    It’s a brave new world where Animal Collective gets a 7 and Andrew W.K. gets a 10. And I love it.