FAME Review: Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins - Sluggo!
Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins - Sluggo!


Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins

Exowax Recordings - EX-2305-1

Available from the Mike Keneally online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Published 17 years ago, out of print for over a decade, Mike Keneally's giving Sluggo! even more of the royal treatment he lavished upon Boil that Dust Speck and Hat, so if you, like me, salivate at the prospect of all these great remastered expansions everyone and their brother's coming up with of late, yer gonna need a drool cup for this one, amigo. The package is a 1-CD, 2-DVD, 20-page booklet set of the original disc with bonus tracks on the CD, four different audiophile formats on the first DVD, and then, on the second DVD, a visual documentation of—hang on, I gotta take a deep breath here:

  • 90 minutes of the band from three different venues (with optional commentary by Mike),
  • 30 minutes of the Sluggo! grand piano studio sessions
  • the original stereo mix
  • 4 more bonus tracks
  • unreleased remixed music accompanying the menu screens
  • and a photo galery of the original tracking sheets

Phew! Christ almighty, could Criterion top that? OH HELLS NO!!! Even more, specially for the brainfevered oh-geez-I'm-losin'-it fanatics, there's a 1000 hand-numbered 2-CD, 2-DVD edition available. And Keneally's one of those cats ya gotta have a bent head to appreciate properly, so, if'n ya don't possess brains bucketed out in that fashion, check out the L.A. Times goop-fest coverage of Abba and Mama Mia! instead. But if'n ya do still have a brain cell or two amid the current socio-political madhouse, keep reading.

With all the above, even Mike's finally satisfied, feeling he's now presented the crazed CD as it really should've been right from the git-go. Along the way, the generous bastard tossed in everything he could find to sweeten the pot. "But who the hell," the innocent and untutored may ask, "is this Keneally guy anyway?" Foolish humans. Mike was Frank Zappa's 'stunt guitarist' way back when. In anyone else's lingo, that'd be a derogation, but in Frank's idiosyncratics, it pointed to a cat who could do all the stuff Frank himself, a first-water axe wielder, couldn't. Wanna know just how far that goes? This summer, the traditional G-3 guitarist orgy has been re-calibrated to G-4 so that Mike could be included along with Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, and Andy Timmons. Yow!

But enough laudatory butt-sniffing, let's have some accolades instead. What's Sluggo! about and what's it like? Hmmmm, well, let's just say that anything Keneally does conceptually is about as lucid as a Dali canvas: all over the place, exploding and crooning simultaneously, hallucinogenic, stunning while disturbing, with a twisted sense of humor and the Waring Blender approach to subterrannean interplanetary composition. Cursorily, the disc's fashioned around the pugnacious little waster from Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy comic strip, but, really, it isn't…unless the Slugster was an acidhead demented transcendentalist who exteriorized his fantasies streetside into the minds of passersby. Could happen, I suppose, but who cares? You get bizarre songs as complexly wrought as any Mothers of Invention cut, power chords, shredding, multi-level antago or la-dee-dah singing (Looking for Nina is a particularly choice cut), a zillion levels collapsing into each other, and, frankly, stuff I can't find words for in my Funkin' Wagnalls.

Look, you've been in the X-Files/Fringe world of Clinton-Bush-Bush-BushBama for, what? centuries now? This is the soundtrack to that but from a muso who grins and winks as he pulls trousers down and shines a mirror ball spotlight on all the tiny little political and social Eeeenises everywhere. Mike admits Sluggo! was conceived more as a set of discrete tracks than as a suite of songs—stream of consciouness, in other words, but with a unifying spirit—and, hell, you even get the Keneally-Styx connection in Chatfield Manor, so what more could one possibly ask??? And with that last mention of Styx, I take my exit, having been warned Mike telepathed it straight off my keyboard and is loading up his .30-06 Springfield, heading for Manhattan Beach. Thus, I never wrote any of this, you never read it, and Sluggo! doesn't exist, but grab it anyway.

Track List:

  • Potato
  • I, Drum-Running, am Clapboard Bound
  • Why am I your Guy?
  • Looking for Nina
  • Frozen Beef
  • Tranquillado
  • What Happened Next
  • Chatfield Manor
  • Beautiful
  • "I guess I'll Peanut"
  • Voyage to Manhood
  • Egg Zooming
  • Own
  • I'm Afraid
  • Cardboard Dog
  • Sluggo
  • Craney
  • Bob Dylan's Nose
All songs written by Mike Keneally except Looking for Nina (Keneally / Briggs).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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