I've been a huge Christine Lavin fan since 1986, having taken numerous friends to her shows and purchased nearly everything's she's released. I'm also a proud owner of a "What Was I Thinking?" cycling cap! Although a friend turned me onto her, it was Lavin who exposed me to the singer-singwriter scene through her concerts and her compilation CDs. For that I'm eternally grateful. Being such a long-time fan, I've followed her through the musical high and low points in her career. Unfortunately, Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best tends to fall into the latter category.
Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best is Lavin's sixth live solo album (Absolutely Live, Live at the Cactus Cafe, One Wild Night, Getting in Touch With My Inner Bitch, Final Exam), on top of her live concert DVD (girlUNinterupted). Her seventeenth album was recorded October 23, 2003 at a concert for the Women's Resource Agency in Colorado Springs. Lavin presents three new songs on the album: Joanne Hammill's round A Question of Tempo (When I'm Under Pressure), Lavin's battle with bureaucracy The Legal Ramifications of a Crackerjack Vendor Who Works in Yankee Stadium, and the title track. Five other songs on the 10-song album are recorded live for the first time. What Was I Thinking? makes its third appearance on a live CD with an updated verse for Martha Stewart.
Planet X, Lavin's homage to the scientific debate about whether Pluto is a planet, serves as an introduction to a 12-minute break in the music where audience members compete for a special prize by answering questions. Lavin selects Mr. Colorado Springs through her musical wanderings through the audience during You Look Pretty Good for Your Age. Both of these songs and their attendant audience-participation games are similar to those on girlUNinterupted. To have nearly 24 minutes on a 73-minute CD to be taken up with these two songs, especially ones that have just been released on her immediate previous DVD, is quite disappointing.
Lavin breaks out an oldie, but welcome goodie, with her Ballad of a Ballgame from her 1986 album Beau Woes.
This leads her to discuss her new song that she wrote for Lincoln Center's annual Take Me Out to the Ballgame: The Legal Ramifications of a Crackerjack Vendor Who Works in Yankee Stadium. This is a hilarious new song that pokes fun at George Steinbrenner and his organization. The song is reminiscent of some of Lavin's early intricate story songs like Doris & Edwin: The Movie and Shopping Cart of Love: The Play. The album closes with the title track about a "permanent reminder of a temporary fad" like eyebrow rings, tatoos, and facelifts.
Taken as a whole, Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best has a few moments that are priceless, but, when coupled with previous live releases, this CD is mostly unnecessary. This CD is perhaps best suited as a first-purchase for a new Lavin fan at one of her concerts. Completists also will buy the album and "The Legal Ramifications" is certainly worth owning. Most Lavin fans, however, will not find this album a worthy purchase. With music only two-thirds of the album, it's probably not one that will be played over and over again in time.
Edited by David N. Pyles
Page design by David N. Pyles