Dex Romweber started life with an intense love of 50s music and blues, naming his band after Gene Vincent's guitarist's axe brand (a Gretsch Duo Jet—and, hey!, don't ask me what on Earth that taxonomy might mean, I only report this stuff). It didn't hurt that the guy was a wild man, shown here in various instances including a performance on The Letterman Show where the most interesting part is when the clipped song finishes but Romweber's rev'ed and ready to flip out. The manic energy blazingly evident on his face is more revealing than his Presley-ish moves in the tune that had just ramped down. Perhaps the guy is best shown as he utters "When I hear today's music, it's not…I…I don't hear that purity [of the 50s catalog] any more, and it's all glossy and, you know, computerized. It's like suddenly the raw edge of rock and roll doesn't exist any more".
Two Headed Cow performs surgery on that complaint, bringing us a cat who has more than a little Georgie Thorogood in him—intense, driven, exuberant, and raucous. As the narrative swings into full force, though, we begin to see once again that R&R road life is not what MTV and the saccharine Hall of Fame portray it as, rather the opposite: filled with grueling touring, drug abuse, psychological torment, and even bouts of low-key madness. The footage is often b&w, which deepens the sense of nu-redneckery and proletariat baselines nicely. Everything hangs out in the flicker light, nothing is censored, even unto Romweler's confession that he's "jacked off 10,000 times" to Club magazine, and by the time this film rolls the credits, it joins the equally engrossing Daniel Johnston film The Devil and Daniel Johnston as well as that way disturbing but ultimately redemptive Wildman Fischer flick, (here).
Dex and Crow, his drummer-bud, drink, smoke gage, play their brains out, and hit hotel room after hotel room as the film progresses. Then comes the inevitable falling out, the break up, and a descent into, as Crow falls away into his own problems, Romweber's neuroses, depression, and various mental afflictions. This film, it becomes very obvious, is not the typical This Is Your Life, Joe Q. Public! kinda saga. It's real, it's painful, and it's sad but pulls no punches, unflinchingly honest. The supernatural walks in one day, and Romweler falls under the ghostly hands of controlling spirits, saying first that they're beneficial and then that "there's no doubt they're fucking with me!!". This is when the documentary gets really fascinating…
…and that's where I'm going to leave you, in a Perils of Pauline cliffhanger, dear reader, because I dislike giving too much away of any film (music's another thing entirely), preferring to tantalize and leave the rest in competent minds and hands. Two Headed Cow, a title not explained until deep into the documentary, is not a rock and roll film. It's actually a psycho-social modern anthropology lesson oracle-ized through the story of a guy who went through the wringer and kinda came out the other side and kinda didn't. For those of us who preceded Romweber in the 60s and 70s, its eerie similarity to the preceding era and all that came of it is more than a little discomfiting.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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