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Wednesday, March 10, 1999

The modern sorrows of Young H.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Now that Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the rock musical, is in CD format and (Ha!) brimming with promising singles – will all the irony of a former East German, currently almost transsexual rock star be lost forever? You can bet yer sweet Berliner that it already is. So breathe a sigh, and be glad that somebody finally came along with a big enough stiletto heel to kick Rocky Horror’s ass. But at the same time, it’s all kind of sad that this record will probably end up as part of the erudite repartee of gay singles ads instead of being widely recognized for its true greatness.

The deftly neurotic Hedwig – named after a young heroine in an Ibsen play who saves a wild duck – is the not-so-proud owner of a bumpy Barbie crotch after a hacked sex-change operation. (Thus the angry inch.) He-she and band – with almost authentic East Bloc naïveté – mix up a moving version of Western – and I don’t mean that in the cowboy sense – rock ’n’ roll angst: Bowie, Meat Loaf, etc. But the music and lyrics are as intense and culturally literate as they are youthfully ridiculous – as if to offer a level of engagement beyond, but not without, dressing in drag and throwing toast. The surrealist throwback, "Exquisite Corpse" says: "The overlapping way diseases are spread/ Through a tornado body/ With a hand grenade head/ And the legs are two lovers entwined."

In another fervent moment, Hedwig obsesses over finding his lost "other half" in the mascara-running Platonic myths of "The Origin of Love." Got meaning? Of course not. But, for God’s sake, a boy lost his goods so you can dance around your kitchen naked to great music! So don’t just stand there ...

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