In the '40s, there was no one in popular music as irreverent or as gut-bustingly funny as Spike Jones, the bandleader who led his orchestra the City Slickers and upended popular tunes of the day with broad arrangements, unconventional instruments, copious sound effects, crazed vocal interjections, and an abundance of manic energy. At their best, Jones' records never stopped exploding with frantic comic business (few bands before or since regularly used pistols, car horns, or tuned pots and pans in their arrangements), and he produced some of the loudest and most anarchic American music to emerge before rock & roll told hold in the '50s. As funny as Jones and the City Slickers were, they were also a ferociously tight and precise ensemble, capable of stopping on a dime and executing a musical 180 with ease and élan, and they were one of the best rehearsed and most exacting acts of the big-band era. Cocktails for Two features 25 vintage recordings from Jones and his band (including several of his biggest hits) that document them at their peak; Spike was one of the first and greatest musical humorists of the modern era (one of his few competitors of the era, Mickey Katz, started in the City Slickers, and takes a vocal on "Jones Polka"), and this set includes a generous sampling of classic sides, capturing his crazed musical vision in all its glory.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming