Music Review: Roy Zimmerman, Faulty Intelligence
Musically, the album is extremely varied, with each song performed and produced in an appropriate style. Zimmerman and his band easily adopt the instrumentation and voice for every occasion. I found myself waiting in vain for a reggae tune. Maybe next time.
Spy spoofing "CIDIAFBI" sounds like the theme from a lost 60s Bond movie. "My Conservative Girlfriend" is a John Denver love song. "Chickenhawk" is an honest-to-goodness country tune about armchair jocks sending the neighbours' kid to war: "I didn't walk the walk but I can talk the talk -- bawk bawk bawk". "Creation Science 101" is a rousing Jerry Lee Lewis number where Zimmerman assumes the role of a teacher at a Christian college. "Hello, NSA" is an early Elvis ballad: "I love you because you really... listen".
"Intelligent Design" is another Bush-bashing country tune, but not directly about evolution as one might expect. "Saddam Shame" is a folkie guitar strummer with exquisite lyrics. "When the Saints Go Marching Into New Orleans" is a perfect-pitch roots blues tune about NOLA -- with a complete horns section. "That Is The War On Terror", sets the album's most seriously angry lyrics to an 80s FM radio rocker.
"Ingles" comments bilingually on the Mexican immigration situation with much Chicano guitar-strumming. It forms an interesting companion piece to Tom Lehrer's slightly chauvinist "In Old Mexico" where the country south of the border is simply somewhere grotty to go on vacation.
The album also offers an astonishingly accurate Al Green impersonation to genuinely soulful accompaniment -- pretty fly for a white guy! Croons Zimmerman in a falsetto so libidinous it'll give you instant bed head: "Abstain with me baby, all night long..."
"Turn Off The Hubble" is a cabaret tune about how much easier it would be for everybody to deal with the Universe if we didn't actually have to know anything about it. This Central European oompah vibe also underpins the sublime "Defenders of Marriage", about how shocking it is that gay people might want to do something so decadent and perverted as to exchange vows and settle down. "It's unnatural!"
Toward the end of the disc, "America" sounds a lot like a token "I'm not a traitor to the nation" number after all the cynicism and satirical vitriol of the other songs. "God bless America – it just might work!" But maybe I'm misreading some layer of irony here.
The bottom line on Roy Zimmerman is that we have a new Tom Lehrer on our hands. But this time he hasn't just got a grand piano and a razor wit, he has a full band, and he's doing every song in a new style. If you like music, if you like satire, and if your politics are even the tiniest bit left of Rush Limbaugh, then this a record for you.
[More blog entries about music, review, satire, politics, royzimmerman; musik, recension, satir, politik, royzimmerman.]