Outside of the recording industry or a convention of pop-music connoisseurs, you’re not likely to hear anyone name-check Clarence Reid, a 66-year-old songwriter whose funk-and-R&B-heavy back catalog has been sampled by the likes of Beyoncé, Puff Daddy and the Jurassic 5.
But casual fans might recognize Mr. Reid’s novelty-act alter ego, Blowfly, a stage persona best known for a sequined superhero outfit and some of the dirtiest, dumbest rhymes ever written outside of a bathroom stall.
Illustrated by a thin selection of archival material, Jonathan Furmanski’s rock-doc profile “The Weird World of Blowfly” traces Mr. Reid’s career arc from successful journeyman songwriter to 1970s underground hero and (brief) early-’80s crossover success, followed by two decades of sporadic efforts and a gradual fade into obscurity.
Blowfly returned to active duty in 2005 with the help of the Miami music writer Tom Bowker, who now doubles as Mr. Reid’s road manager and drummer. Several albums and concert tours of America, Germany and Australia have followed. But to quote LL Cool J, don’t call it a comeback. The half-empty auditoriums, indifferent audiences and backstage shouting matches pre-empt the scenario’s feel-good potential and much of its personal color.
As Blowfly, Mr. Reid primarily parodied (if that’s the word) well-known pop singles by rewriting their lyrics along hypersexual and scatological lines. His discography is an unbroken sequence of adolescent crudities almost entirely unredeemed by cleverness or wit.
And yet somehow Mr. Reid has an ability to push so far into the depths of stupidity that he breaks out the other side, making you laugh in spite of yourself.