By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
Feliz Navidad . . . con 14 Exitos Navidenos (born 1983)
If you buy this album and think you can resell it as a "RARE Ricky Martin Christmas collectible" on eBay, forget it -- the future Latin irritant joined the franchise a year later. By 1983, the Menudo organization, the Siberia of Pop, had already banished five lovable Puerto Ricans into bitter early retirement at age 16. Maybe that explains why the "Tarjeta Navidena Giganta," or "giant Christmas pinup," was still tucked inside the sleeve. Can't you just hear those Menudo purists talking shit about Xavier's gappy dental work and remarking, "Gee, the band sure has gone downhill since Nefty got the boot!" Two words of warning: No matter where you drop the needle on this record, it sounds exactly the same as the last snippet you played. Except for "Noche de Paz" ("Silent Night" to you), where some prehormonal freak in the ranks sounds enough like Eydie Gormé to get Steve Lawrence hot and bothered.
The Lennon Sisters
On the Groovy Side (born 1966)
The Lennon Sisters
Today (born 1968)
Working for Lawrence Welk does tend to take its toll on one's groovy side. For the Lennon Sisters, groovy obviously meant being free to wear paisley print house dresses, work with Gary Lewis' record producer and cover "Sunny," "Going Out of My Head" and "Sure Gonna Miss Him" (clearly, Gary Lewis was the sisters' Maharishi!). Still, one suspects beneath this eight-breasted beast was a crazed rendition of "Psychotic Reaction" ready to claw its way through the schmaltz. No such luck, but Today was as close as the Sisters would come to turning on and dropping jaws. After breaking away from the Welk musical family, the Lennons exercised their newfound artistic freedom by covering more Gary Lewis tunes and out-psychedelicizing the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine." Imagine the original hit version, then picture the Lennon Pipers attacking it like four crazed Stepford wives! Unfortunately, their Christianity kicks in big time on "California Dreaming," where they change that pesky "I pretend to pray" line and ensure that they would never get asked to play the Monterey Pop Festival. It's the Love crowd's loss. They would've brought some kick-ass tuna salad sandwiches.
ADAM VIII Presents Disco Party (born 1975)
Although these timeless '70s hits are all easily obtainable on compact disc, they will never again be available in this configuration -- an "as seen on TV" LP from Adam VIII, whose relation to Adam 12 remains a mystery to this day. For Disco Party, "20 non-stop original hits by the original artists" were all seamlessly segued together like a Studio 54 DJ might have been -- if crack cocaine were available in 1975! Imagine the school dances and parties where this record might have been played, then picture a youngster hustling to "Rock Your Baby" and "Doctor's Orders" suddenly being traumatized mid-booty shake by BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" and then Paper Lace's "The Night Chicago Died." Or freaking out when Styx' s "Lady" is mercilessly plopped in between the Three Degrees and the Chi-Lites. Disco sucks -- no fooling!
The Plague (birthdate unknown)
No one flocks to hear the encouraging words or pedestrian organ playing of a fallen evangelist, unless you do prison time like Jim Bakker. Few collectors of faith camp have found it in their hearts to forgive Jimmy, so why do I love the Swaggart? Well, neighbor, let me count the ways. First off, I love the way the Swag just makes up words in the heat of the moment -- I spend weeks looking up new Swaggart phraseology like "prothlicate." I love the way he overheats like a gas-guzzling Le Sabre whenever he expounds on all things evil. I love the way he draws far more breath than he needs for the seven or so words he spouts before taking another ill-timed inhalation. I love the way he's mounted a one-man campaign to keep the word "dastardly" from slipping out of modern lexicon. And of course, I love the way he keeps name-dropping his no-good cousin Jerry Lee Lewis into every one of his turntable sermonettes, forever linking Jerry Lee's yin to his sanctimonious yang. But do you ever get the feeling in real life the Killer avoids Jimmy like . . . The Plague!?
The Mantovani Scene (born 1969)
"Where is the Mantovani Scene?" wonders the liner notes to this album. "Here, there and everywhere" the same liner notes answer right backatcha! These days, Mantovani's scene seems to be St. Vincent de Paul, where his albums are an inescapable presence. Every time Mantovani sneezed, apparently there was another new Mantovani album to catch the mucus. Magic Moments With Mantovani, Mr. Music . . . Mantovani, Mantovani Today, The Many Moods of Mantovani -- each with this messianic conductor to the world giving you the full Manty on every cover. Yes -- Mantovani! who can bend measures with his bare hand! Who can score everything from "April Love" to "Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose" with 100 tumbling violins sawing away in savage unison! That's power. That's . . . feeling! In an early '90s attempt to make himself seem even more boring than usual, David Bowie admitted listening only to Mantovani around the house. And you can see what that ringing endorsement's done for Mantovani's product placement.