Under Review: Everybody Was In The French Resistance…Now! – Fixin’ The Charts, Volume 1

As we’ve already established, I love a good novelty song.  From Dr. Demento mainstays like Barnes & Barnes and Nervous Norvus to earlier jokesters like Spike Jones and Raymond Scott, novelty songs have been a part of my life since the beginning.  Though recent novelty tunes have relied on vulgar or lowbrow humor, one new project lampoons pop music with pop music.  Led by Art Brut’s knuckle-headed frontman Eddie Argos, Everybody Was In The French Resistance…Now! is more than just a band with a terrible name; it’s a band with a terrible name and a mission.  That mission, as expressed in their debut album, Fixin’ The Charts, Volume 1, is to bring justice to music history by providing alternate views of stories in well-known songs.  For example, “(I’m So) Waldo P. Emerson Jones” responds to The Archies’ tune about the same mysterious character.  “The Scarborough Affaire” acts on the wishes of the Simon & Garfunkle version, albeit to more pigeon-toed results than the iconic duo could’ve imagined.  And the album goes on, aping lines and melodies from more well-known (and better-written) songs.  The joke, which isn’t all that original to begin with (the ‘answer record’ trend dates back to the 1930s), wears thin very quickly as Argos brings some of his most lackluster material to the party.  Not being a big fan of Art Brut, I can still appreciate some of their adorably clunky songs.  On Fixin’ The Charts, though, Argos uses the classic songs more like a crutch than a springboard.  Many of the songs on Fixin’ The Charts have titles that give away any specks of humor the song itself may contain.  Titling a song “Think Twice (It’s Not Alright)” doesn’t show reverence for Dylan.  If anything, it, along with the rest of Fixin’ The Charts, shows contempt for the original material, treating the songs like valueless, easily-disposed refuse.  If the person behind this project were anyone other than the self-lauded fanatic of pop music that is Eddie Argos, I might write Fixin’ The Charts off as a shameless attempt to cash in on a handful of great songs (like every other answer record).  However, because Eddie is Eddie, more should be expected of him, even by non-fans.  Sure, he can’t sing and no, he can’t always write memorable songs, but Eddie Argos has shown that he’s not above taking some of his favorites and dulling them down with this useless venture.  After all, who needs Frank Sinatra or Bob Dylan when you can have Everybody Was In The French Reistance…Now!?  No one, ever, that’s who.

~ by E. on February 26, 2010.

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