Brave Combo

Humansville

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Brave Combo's fifth album, 1988's Humansville tones down the occasionally self-conscious giddiness of the band's earliest records. The humor seems less forced, with no hints of "Dig us, we're the wacky polka guys," and there's a slightly more serious mien to the album. Not that a Brave Combo album can be anything but lighthearted: Any group who essays covers like the Mexican pop standard "Besame Mucho" and the easy listening classic "Poor People of Paris" on the same album has to have a few giggles up their sleeves. The pinnacle of goofiness, though, is the closing track, "Tubular Jugs." Yep, it's a three-minute condensation of Mike Oldfield's prog-rock classic Tubular Bells, done in a jug band style. The funniest part is that it works, and that, as on the rest of the album, Carl Finch and crew put the song over not with a smirk, but with passionate, red-hot playing that gives the tune its due. For that reason alone, Humansville is the album on which Brave Combo leaves the novelty band tag behind for good.

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