SATAN STOLE MY TEDDYBEAR
While released under the Bumblefoot moniker, this album really is a Ron Thal album, with Ron writing, producing and performing all the songs, and as such is a direct follow-up to Ron's "Hermit" album.
The music on this album is often compared to Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but these comparisons are quite off-base, as Thal is a much better-rounded and more interesting musician than all the members of RATM and RHCP put together. The songs allude to a wide variety of genres of rock, from punk ("Shrunk") to prog to metal to shred (the leads in "Dummy" and "Brooklyn Steakhouse" are completely impossible) to Zappa/Keneally rock ("Chair Ass") to rap ("Vomit") to death-reggae ("Brooklyn Steakhouse") to the Beatles ("Backfur") to grunge ("Tuesday in Nancy") to various styles in between, evoking Derek Taylor's solo work. The lyrics are often absolutely hysterical, with a deadpan delivery that only enhances their absurdity.
In spite of the silly lyrics, the overall atmosphere is rather dark, as it was on "Hermit". While the genre hopping might be a little much to swallow at first, this album is full of interesting ideas and tremendous musicianship and will appeal to fans of stimulating metal-oriented lunacy.
Uncool (France version 2000)
Ron Thal's Bumblefoot returns with a new concept - a faux 70s lounge band playing rap/metal/rockabilly/funk/disco/Latin/oriental music. Most of the songs have a softer edge and switch genres less frantically than on his previous records, but Thal's insanity and outstanding musicianship are still plastered all over the album.
After a brief 70s lounge intro goofily showcasing Thal's remarkable vocals-to-come, the album's significantly harder first half starts off with a fast, brutal rap/metal number ("Go") peppered with one of Thal's impossible leads and a great melodic harmonized guitar break. But rap/metal is only one of the myriad stylistic elements that can be heard, as the next song ("T-Jonez") is a goofy loungey/Latin love song with poppy harmonized backup vocals, a Jamaican deathcore rap break and trumpets performed Bobby McFerrin-style - with no actual instrument. A sultry two-part Zappaesque low-voice spoken piece bookends an evil rockabilly song complete with slapback delay guitars, big band arrangements ("Crunch") and Thal's trademark Jamaican death rap break. The melodic "I Hate Me..." features a Latin melody, flutes and acoustic guitar break with a great melodic vocal bridge and chorus, a straight-from-the-hood rap break and some metal riffing in places.
"Kiss The Ring", which evokes Rage Against the Machine and Apostrophe-era Frank Zappa, marks the end of the harder first half and is followed by one of the album's best melodic tracks, the Spanish-y "Delilah", with an incredible bass line, Thal's best recorded vocals to date, and a really impressive flow overall. The second half of the album is full of brilliant melodic songs combining salsa and metal ("Ronald's Coming Back Now"), Zappaesque instrumental sections and panned vocals (the extraordinary instrumental "R2"), funk and muzak flutes ("Mine"), Thalesque metal and superb Elvis Costello/Beatles-inspired strings ("Heart Attack"), and more genres than I should mention in this already overlong review.
While Ron Thal's overall musicianship and guitar virtuosity are far beyond comprehension, the most striking new feature on this album are Thal's melodic vocals, which are now absolutely outstanding in expressiveness, timbre, technique and variety. The confidence, versatility and power of his numerous delivery styles make some of the silliest lyrics this side of Weird Al Yankovic sound perfectly natural and convincing.
This is by very, very far the most amazing album I have heard in many months, and as such it must be obtained by all at any price. Fans of Faith No More should be the first in line.
Reviews by Rog "the Frog" Billerey-Mosier