Tar Babies

Honey Bubble

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The last album from the Tar Babies is their funkiest and in many ways their most successful, though the vocals are still a bit weak and lacking in personality. Indeed, the two best cuts are the ones with guest vocalists -- of a sort. "Spaight and Ashbury" is really an instrumental that happens to be overlaid with recordings of rambling, surreal answering-machine messages. Oddly, the mix works perfectly, with the strange stream-of-consciousness monologue a mad counterpoint to the sizzling funk rumbling beneath it. "Bimbos and Idiots" is a non-politically correct rant that features a female guest vocal, and it comes off livelier than most of the other cuts. Elsewhere, the vocals on "Honey Bubble" are lacking in character -- not bad, but not memorable. This is unfortunate because most of the music here is first-rate, mixing punk, funk, and experimentalism to great effect. Funky slap bass and strident, discordant guitars mix much better than might be expected, and though the horn section never really cuts loose, there are some moments when they add a soulful or jazzy tone to a punkish riff. This band had some very good ideas and weren't afraid to experiment, and even if they didn't always pull everything off, their albums still sizzle.

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