David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 301: Holly Beth Vincent (King Of Fat)

November 16, 2023

Today I go back to the lane of the obscure, specifically the HBV lane, HBV being a nickname used by fans of Holly Beth Vincent. However, given the nature of Slim Whitman's specious claims to fame, maybe I have stayed in the obscurity lane. 

Vincent is less obscure than Glass Eye, having hovered around the punk/pop/alternative scene in 1981 with her band Holly & The Italians (and see Day 52 for them). However, that didn't last particularly long, and Vincent has spent the last 40+ years making music intermittently, sometimes with others, but often just releasing a collection of new songs done as a solo artist, sometimes entirely solo, as with 2007's Super Rocket Star (accompanied only by a violinist on two songs). Vincent is a bit quirky and self-indulgent as an artist, but I learned long ago to patiently fight through that to discover and appreciate the occasional masterpiece songs she creates. Such is the case of "King of Fat" off of Super Rocket Star.

Vincent includes two songs called "King of Fat" on the CD, one recorded in Los Angeles, and one recorded in Nashville, those cities becoming the distinction among HBV fans when talking about them. "King Of Fat (Nashville version)" comes second from the end of the CD, and if it had been the only version probably would have passed by mostly without notice. However, the Los Angeles version featured early in the CD is the one that can't escape notice, primarily because it is a vision of excess.

With that excess, Vincent shows she is the Queen of Fat, if not the King.

At the start of the Los Angeles version, one might be tempted to say that Vincent's excess is merely in the elements of electronic music that many purists might eschew. The drum machine seems really obvious, and the music during the verses is pretty minimalist. If she had simply recreated the Nashville version with this minimalist approach, Vincent would have produced a pretty underwhelming song.

Luckily, she has a bigger vision in L.A., which starts with the inclusion of an entire extra verse, helping pad its almost 6-minute length versus the 3-minute length of the Nashville version. That extra verse begins with the lines "I know exactly what it means/yet misunderstanding" before the vocals get lost in the mix. So I am going out on a limb here to say this is me, I know exactly what this means, but am probably misunderstanding. Nonetheless, I plow on, chewing on the fat.

The excess in time comes primarily with the inclusion of a Korg Triton Extreme Keyboard, which according to her Bandcamp site is something Vincent bought after tinkling with it for a few minutes at a Guitar Center (I wonder if the local music geek who sold it to her knew he was interacting with a punk goddess?). That Triton is the keyboard, I'm assuming, that is all over the Los Angeles version of "King Of Fat," pumping amazing synthesizer riffs in and around the verses, driving the song from the guitar-driven rockabilly number of Nashville to electronic dance club music of L.A., through, what I believe is simple modulation, elevating the repeated lines "kings of fat/right on/peace, brother" to a song of joy. Is it any wonder that Vincent in her recent years has been making Techno-House music under the name of Yllohas? I am tempted to say it started in Los Angeles with "King Of Fat", but I believe everything, all the way back to Holly and the Italians' "Tell That Girl To Shut Up" started in Los Angeles.

Ultimately, where better to celebrate the joys of excess than Los Angeles? What better place to celebrate mankind's tendency to "swallow whole another's future?" Other than the disaster that is modern Florida, where else would one expect to find "snakes along the gutter/dirty, wet and sinking"? What modern Sodom is more embodying of the "creeps" Vincent cites in her opening lines ("I know exactly what I think/about you and all the creeps")? Had Vincent been subjected to Harvey Weinstein?

I encourage you to join me in the HBV lane, even if our bandwagon is not nearly heavily occupied.

Vincent, Holly Beth. "King Of Fat." Super Rocket Star. Bug, 2007. Link here.

Day 300: Slim Whitman "Una Paloma Blanca"

Day 302: Katy Perry "Firework"

See complete list here.