The Austin Lounge Lizards
Austin Lounge Lizards "Creatures From The Black Saloon" (Rounder, 1983)
A band that may provoke as many groans as guffaws, the Lizards crank out Doctor Demento-style novelty tunes for the twangster set... Trouble is, while some of their songs are indeed super-funny, most of their material is rather strained, and their delivery often seems too prissy and self-satisfied to really carry the joke. This album is particularly vexing for me, since it includes an ennervated version of "(I Cried A) Hot Tub Of Tears," which is a song I remember well from it's late-'70s demo version, which used to be played constantly on the old KFAT radio station... and was a lot livelier and funnier than the Lizards's rendition. Still, the Lizards make up for it with "Old And Fat And Drunk" and "The Car That Hank Died In," which are the sole comedic highlights on this otherwise sluggish and filler-ific album.
Austin Lounge Lizards "Highway Cafe Of The Damned" (Sugar Hill, 1988)
Austin Lounge Lizards "Lizard Vision" (Flying Fish, 1991)
Austin Lounge Lizards "Paint Me On Velvet" (Flying Fish, 1993)
Austin Lounge Lizards "Small Minds" (Sugar Hill, 1995)
Austin Lounge Lizards "Live Bait" (Watermelon, 1996)
On this live EP, the Loungies tackle politics with "Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers On Drugs" and "Gingrich The Newt..." They also sings some of their time-tested country novelty tunes like "Highway Cafe Of The Damned" and "The Car That Hank Died In." God bless Texas!
Austin Lounge Lizards "Employee Of The Month" (Sugar Hill, 1998)
Sigh. Is there no joke these guys won't just bluntly pound to death? "Another Stupid Texas Song" and "Leonard Cohen's Day Job" are funny enough, and well, maybe the truncated version of "Mama Don't Allow..." But, jeez, they sure can strain against the formula at times... Their brand of humor is still way too on-the-nose for me. Nice cover art, though!
Austin Lounge Lizards "Never An Adult Moment" (Sugar Hill, 2000)
More of the same. Many of these jokes might seem funnier if you'd never heard of the band before, or if you just heard them on a radio show, one song at a time. But listening to one of these albums all the way through, from end to end... Yeeee-e-e-e-eeex. I guess it takes a certain temperament; I find it a bit of a chore.
Austin Lounge Lizards "Strange Noises In The Dark" (Blue Corn, 2003)
There are a some songs on here that might get ya to giggle, the first time you heard them, as well as the usual dose of jokes that fall flat and just lie there, inert. On the plus side, Kelly Willis kicks in some fine vocals on "We Always Fight When We Drink Gin," a pitch-perfect parody of 1960s-era country duets, and folks from the SF Bay Area may appreciate "Banana Slugs! Racing Down The Field (Proposed UC-Santa Cruz Fight Song)" but many songs don't stand up to protracted scrutiny. Some just have lame premises, like the voyeuristic "When I'm Cleaning Windows," "Jesse + Phil" (about a fictitious gay affair between conservative senators Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm) and "The Lonely Yodeler" (the joke being that his interest in Tyrolean yodeling is accompanied by a fetish for lederhosen and other leather gear...) Of historical interest (if not musical durability) is "Why Couldn't We Blow Up Saddam?" one of the few country tunes from '03 to criticize the conduct of the war in Iraq; in retrospect it seems to trivialize the war, but I bet it got a lot of applause in their live shows. The Lizards also pull in some good material from outside sources, notably "Merchant's Lunch," from the Red Clay Ramblers, and Tom Paxton's "You Can Eat Dogfood." In both cases, you're better off with the original, but they do spice things up... Anyway, this is another A.L.L. album for true believers only, but it has its moments.
Austin Lounge Lizards "Lizards Times Twenty: Live At Antone's" (DVD) (Blue Corn, 2004)
The Austin Lounge Lizards "The Drugs I Need" (Blue Corn, 2007)
Ever crack up when you see some ad for a wonder drug and the list of side effects is longer than the Gettysburg Address? Yeah, the Lizards have noticed that as well. The title track here is a hilarious spin on that very theme... Sure, a lot of us have made the same joke but these guys actually have a record out. I often find AuLL's albums to be a hit-or-miss effort, but I liked this one. There are a lot of topical tunes and several songs that got me to laugh out loud, notably "The Drugs I Need," "One True God" and "We've Been Through Some Crappy Times Before," which tweaks the collective nose of those who fell into a deep funk following the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Media consolidation, the health care meltdown, environmentalism and culturally targeted marketing campaigns are all on their radar... So is you funnybone! (Apparently they also produced several videos related to this album -- if you check out the band's website you can find some links...)
Austin Lounge Lizards "Home And Deranged" (Blue Corn, 2013)
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