("Better Than the Beatles" is back on-line.)
Ira Robbin's Trouser Press review of The Bonzo Dog Band begins with an excellent examination of the nature of absurdity in music, an essay equally applicable to San Diego's mad genius(es) the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, who finally have a new album, "Experiments with Auto-Croon," just released this past April Fools Day, appropriately enough. I can't think of anyone else currently operating who can successfully navigate such tricky Dada-humor waters as this band. Who else would make their debut album a 5-disk set?
As Robbins admits in his review, absurdity is not for everybody. Most people would probably listen to this album and think: why am I listening to an out-of-key robot singing nonsense over rinky-dink electronica? Well, apart from the catchy tunes, there's also the fact that a song about kid volleyball players who "all become mummies/ for no specific reason" (a song called, naturally, "Volleyball Mummies") is really funny. Okay, it makes me laugh. There's no obvious humor here, no set-up/punchline. This could all easily end up dumb, juvenile, trying too hard to be "wacky!" but it's not. It's droll, deadpan, and just plain weird.
For example: This song asks and answers the question, why are there no mime detectives?
Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra: "Mime Detective" - and dig that toy piano.
The simple, if quirky, electronic pop formula hasn't changed, but it still veers into new territory like the danceable '60s soul organ of "Stunt Double Shuffle," (tho any DJ who spins it risks his job), and the Martin Denny-like exotica "God of Cocktail Umbrellas," in which we learn that the job of those little umbrellas in your cocktail is to keep the drink from getting wet. Because who wants a soggy drink?
Also included: two tracks from the now off-line "Name That Tune" cover song quiz: Bon Jovi, and a spiritual ancestor of the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra: Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London." Visit:
Listen to the whole album streaming HERE.