All songs written by satirist Shel Silverstein.
I know where this album is going, and, I'm pretty sure it would not be released on a major label today.
Well, not without a lot of controversy.
So, if you are politically correct or easily offended do not read on.
I would like to say that I'm reviewing an album not commenting on the right to free speech as it exists in this day and age but any number of law changes can make both irrevocably intertwined.
In a world where criticising fashion can be discriminatory where fashion is an extension of a person's gender identity. In a world where the use of casual sexual vernacular can lead to harm to a listener eavesdropping is a world where "Sloppy Seconds" won't fit in comfortably.
Of course, the reality is that your tolerance of views, attitudes and persons who think differently to you is the barometer of your belief in free speech.
What was a major raison d'etre of the old left has become a truncheon of the new left.
It is a form of new puritanism dressed up as social justice. And one which is particularly problematic because the test of offensiveness lies with the person who receives the information not community standards.
And "Sloppy Seconds" isn't going to pass many tests.
Where I sit on this doesn't matter but it will affect this album because of all the egg shells out there.
Some people will find offence in this album and the follow on logic is that, well, it is offensive and it should be banned.
Well yes maybe it is offensive to some people but we are talking "Sloppy Seconds" here not "Mein Kamf".
And neither should be banned anyway …just criticised and ridiculed if need be.
Dr Hook are, or rather, Shel Silverstein who wrote all the songs, is someone who likes to take the piss. He see, observes and comments. It is occasionally crude, sometimes funny but always satirical.
It isn't mean spirited and the excesses are balanced by some sensitive and perceptive ballads.
Check out my other comments for bio on the band but as I write in another comment, "Shel Silverstein, was a man of many talents as a satirist, (Playboy) cartoonist, writer of children’s books and as a songwriter. He was a sharp Brill building staff songwriter with an eye for small details which gave his songs lives that people could relate to. Like a more acerbic Ray Stevens his music is humorous but without losing touch of the melody or musical hook (sic) … Dr Hook and Shel Silverstein were a perfect match. The band with their jokey, devil may care, anything goes humour where quite anarchic by mainstream standards which fit in perfectly with Silverstein's sharp humorous satire … This isn't underground New York avant-garde but mainstream music. But it is quite twisted by mainstream standards. The band, having been a bar band, are tight but they look scrappy, and they exude chaos and down home on the porch, with a jug of whisky (or a joint or two), sing-along sessions. This fits in perfectly with the freewheeling early seventies. There was just enough country sounds in there to have them pick up on some of that market, and just enough soft rock for the mainstream market".
Shel Silverstein wrote most of the first album and it met with some success (a top 10 single, "Sylvia's Mother" with the album reaching #45 in the US, the single went to #1 in Australia and #2 in the UK). It is a no brainer, so accordingly, this second album takes off from where the first left off and amps up the satire. Sure, the majority of the songs are the love songs and ballads, but, double entendres coming out like a hippie counter culture Benny Hill are what will bring notice to this album.
The proof is you would be hard pressed trying to find a review that doesn't mention the lyrical content of the more raucous songs … as I have.
It may be funny to look sat this now as some relic of the past and assume that this music slid through because this was the "dark ages", 1972 (apparently every epoch thinks they are more enlightened than that that preceded them). But, that is unfair. 1972 would not have been a safe space for this album either. The feminist movement was loud and strong, as were the traditionalists against a permissive society as where the intelligentsia pushing for music as art full of meaning with something relevant, and serious, to say.
Shel Silverstein, through Dr Hook, has something serious to say but he can't say it with a straight face and he has surrounded it with a loose, good ol boy drunken country and rock party atmosphere.
And, perhaps, that is why the band get some flack …they put it across so convincingly, and there is some ambiguity in the lyrics, so that you can't tell what is satire and what is a homage to common behaviour.
That's where puritanism or righteousness kicks in.
And this existed in 1972.
My Australian copy of this album from 1972 doesn't include the last song on the album, "Looking for Pussy". The Australian censor, unlike that in the US, was not hampered by constitutional requirements of free speech and, accordingly, had a much broader ability to read the double entendres in a song. Though, what looking for a lost cat has to do with anything I don't know.
As a sidenote, the great Australian band , Skyhooks, found the full force of the Australian censor when they had six tracks on their first album, "Living in The 70s" (1974) banned from radio airplay (and it still went to number one and demolished the former attitudes to censorship).
Lead Vocals: Dennis : Freakin’ At The Freaker’s Ball / Carry Me, Carrie / The Things I Didn’t Say / Last Mornin’ / I Can’t Touch The Sun / Queen Of The Silver Dollar
Lead Vocals: Ray : If I’d Only Come And Gone / Turn On The World / Cover Of The Rolling Stone
Lead Vocals: Billy / George : Get My Rocks Off
Lead Vocals: Dennis / Ray : Stayin’ Song
All songs by Shel Silverstin, produced by Ron Haffkine (who, apparently, hooked (sic) the band up with Shel Silverstein).
Tracks (best in italics)
- Freaker's Ball – originally released by Shel Silverstein on his album, " Freakin' at the Freakers Ball", in 1972. This is a magnificent song with a touch of ragtime (the revival was popular at the time) or tin pan alley though not for the sensitive.
Blow your whistle, and bang your gong
Roll up something to take along
It feels so good, it must be wrong
We're freakin' at the freaker's ball
Well all the fags and the dykes they're boogie-in' together
The leather freaks are dressed in all kinds of leather
The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too
Screaming please hit me and I'll hit you
- If I'd Only Come And Gone – like a drunker and more belligerent Kenny Rogers. Another winner.
- Carry Me, Carrie – a country rock power ballad
- The Things I Didn't Say – a sweet ballad with familiar country themes.
- Get My Rocks Off – total sleaze and not far removed from Frank Zappa.
- Last Mornin' – a good first person narrative ballad about the music industry
- I Can't Touch The Sun – a country-ish power ballad.
- Queen Of The Silver Dollar – a big sound but quite gentle and perceptive
- Turn On The World – a ballad
- Stayin' Song – catchy
- The Cover Of "Rolling Stone" – one of the wittiest and acerbic statements on the music industry ever … and Dr Hook had a few "Everybody's making it Big But Me". "last Mornin (above), and parts of "Millionaire". Excellent. Listen to the lyrics. Stoopid Rolling Stone rag. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cover_of_Rolling_Stone
Wonderful, would be perfect with a six pack … I'm keeping it.
1972 Carry Me Carrie #71
1972 The Cover of Rolling Stone #6
1972 The Cover of Rolling Stone #32
If I'd Only Come And Gone
Carry Me, Carrie
Get My Rocks Off
Queen Of The Silver Dollar
The Cover Of "Rolling Stone"
- The album is credited to Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
And remember "breaking news is a bit like breaking wind … sometimes you need to wait to see what the fallout is before announcing anything" FEN