The Squirrels

Sing the Hits of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates/Five Virgins

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Jumping into his sporadic album career with an entertaining bang, Morgan fully unleashed his hilariously talented vision on the world with this sort-of split release. Billed as two separate outfits -- Ernest Anyway and the Mighty (Mighty) Squirrels on the one hand, the New Age Urban Squirrels on the other -- Morgan and company showed how in the right hands humor and ability can recombine into something fantastic. As the title indicates, the first side consists of nothing but covers of songs from the legendary early British rockers; that Morgan knows his super boss rock is demonstrated by the fact that the Pirates' biggest hit, "Shakin' All Over," in fact isn't included. Instead it's six other cuts that get the treatment, including the wonderfully weird passion of "Hungry for Love" and fine choices like "I Hate Gettin' up in the Morning" and "Restless." Morgan's own delicious half-croon/half-rocker vocals are in full effect, while the Squirrels (here including Young Fresh Fellows like Tad Hutchison and Scott McCaughey) treat everything with the appropriate sass and fire, when not tripping out completely, as the quavery guitars and vocal yelps on "Growl" show. On the flip, Morgan leads another set of Squirrels, including longtime collaborators Eric Erickson and Joey Kline, though a ridiculously wonderful set of sixties covers hither and yon. Highlights are a devolved loungey version of "Spirit in the Sky" that throws in references to the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the Beatles' "Taxman," a version of "Hair" that has to be heard to be believed, and a romp through the Jerry Reed trash-AM standby "Amos Moses" by way of Led Zeppelin. Kline contributes a nutty original himself, the country & western tragedy "Me and Roger (The Cowboy and the Kid)." Morgan's sense of parodic design is in full flower: the Mighty (Mighty) Squirrels appear in appropriate pirate garb, while the New Age Urban Squirrels grace the front cover à la the John Lennon/Yoko Ono effort Two Virgins, without a stitch on.