This is an incredibly varied album, sometimes hysterically funny as on the title track, but always cerebral, thought-provoking and strangely captivating. It's awash with clever samples that definitely contribute to the ambience and the weirdness. There are gentle ballads like Great Radio, What If and their cover of Kisses Sweeter Than Wine. Chicken Pussy is a bizarre sound collage with hilarious spoken lyrics while White Rental Car Blues sounds like a sweet soul song if you ignore the suggestive lyrics.
Nick Cave Dolls starts with those weird samples, a guy talking about the name of the band plus random snatches of conversation and noise, before Ann's wistful voice takes up a surrealistic tale of a stroll through the city while sending up a variety of stereotypes. On Bedazzled she turns into Marlene Dietrich or similar European sultry chanteuse in a conversation/talk and response format with the other voices. The next one, Obscene & Pornographic Art, is a literate and witty observation of a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art that'll have you in stitches, especially the "suffragette song."
A robotic, laconic male vocal narrates the tale of a visit to a strange game room over ominous warbling guitar sounds on What Kind Of Man Reads Playboy, while Junior kicks off with raucous guitar and turns into a love song with Ann's dreamy vocalising.
This amazing album's tour de force is the astonishing Folk Song, all 11 minutes of it, where Magnuson's voice really gets a chance to soar. It deals with inter alia anarchists, sexual politics, media networks and refers to anthropologist Joseph Campbell in this most beautiful chorus: "Joseph Campbell gave me hope and now I have been saved/So I sing hello death, goodbye Avenue A."
As the song progresses, Ann sings abut health food, Dr Suess, religion, TV series, movies, politics, taking mushrooms at Joshua Tree, Carlos Castaneda, Berlin Alexanderplatz, the feelgood movie of the decade and many other things, before ending with those beautiful lines again: "Hello death, goodbye Avenue A." Phew! Not many songs in the history of popular music can encompass so many things and still remain cohesive.
This is one of the most intelligent rock albums I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, brimful of melodic twists and turns, with gripping lyrics, brilliant instrumentation and vivid imagery. I know Ann Magnuson is now a successful actress, but I'm surprised she's not a famous author too, judging by her talent for satire and moving imagery.