According to the liners, JW Farquhar holed up in his Philadelphia apartment in 1972 and recorded The Formal Female in response to a 10-year marriage that crumbled. He purchased a four-track Teac recorder and began putting down part by part, track by track – playing the role of one-man band, along with the help of “guest” musicians Riffery Lowknut, Slash Mullethead and Callust Likfinker.
As those names and motives might suggest, Farquhar’s lyrics are vitriolic, scorning it seems not just the woman he was previously involved with, but using her as a “model” of all female faults. Still, the music is pretty good, and considering the limitations of the recording, the sound is better than I expected. The disc is worth checking out for “The Want Machine,” a bizarre call-and-response number that grows ever strange, and “Where Have You Been,” a folky, acoustic-guitar number where Farquhar sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Steve Earle.
And how about that cover art?