Man o man o man, but this is one CD of covers I was realllllly waiting to lay hold of! The list of chosen classical rock cuts is enough to make a Benedictine monk break his vow of silence and exclaim "Yow! Who the hell had THIS kind of eclectic taste???" I mean you get Black Sabbath, Sugarloaf, Chicago, The Nazz, Randy Newman, Styx, and nothing but charting cuts that were originally headbangers, pop charters, jazz-rock, all kinds of stuff…delivered by an assemblage making its sobriquet ('Misfit Toys' is pretty much a cellar-standard moniker for non-conformance) a sieve for the entire gatherum.
Thus, Chicago's horn-jazz-rock Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? has only one wind instrument (clarinet), is delivered in mello-reggae and features a MIDI marimba. I saw Chicago (then: Chicago Transit Authority) when they were touring with Hendrix and first did this song, blowing minds before they'd even cut an LP, and I hope Misfit Toys sends the group a copy 'cause it'll delight the hell out of the guys. Then comes a Martin Denny-meets-Benny-Goodman version of Gilbert O'Sullivan's pop-precious Alone Again Naturally. "But what," I can hear FAME readers crying out feverishly, "does 'Iron Man' sound like?!?!" Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa! You gotta hear it to believe it. 'Member the era when Emil Richards and a gaggle of jazzsters were covering rock on all those knock-off albums? Well, it's just as cool but way more hip, something that would've had Doctor Demento rolling in the aisles.
What I REALLY love, though, is Green-Eyed Lady, ironically the song that laid the foundation for Misfit Toys. Sugarloaf was a great group, could cook with fire along with the best, and this one of their two hits (Don't Call Us, We'll Call You was the other), was a top seller for a long time, but Misfit Toys tears it down and reassembles everything through that West Coast Cool vibe they favor, including an impressive solo from Dan Moore, the genius flake behind all this, again on MIDI marimba, after which Robert Paredes comes tearing in on clarinet only to have the song founder, fall completely apart, and then pick right back up again. Hilarious! Throughout, the vocals are absolutely reflective of the untutored geek vocals that so predominated the alt-rock wave of the 80s.
Despite the wildly varying flavors of the original cuts, each and every one gets reconverted here to the Misfit Toys' milieu, and the closer, Bless the Beasts and Children is actually a beautifully balladic take on that old chestnut, for a moment forsaking goofinesses and tomfoolery to emphasize just how accomplished all these jackanapes really are.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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