Daniel Smith and family jump out of the gate with fervent heavens-praising energy and never let up on Tell Another Joke at the Ol' Choppin' Block. Sounding like a Pixies tribute band performing at a carnival sideshow, Smith and company spout strange lyrics that give props to the Lord, examine mother-child bonds, and explore the "deep kind of love" of a "Jersey Loverboy." Highlights include the banjo workout opening track where Smith proclaims, "Bring it down now...I love my Lord, I love my Lord, I love my Lord" until he's out of breath, and "Ye Olde Battleaxe" with its repeated refrain of "mothers and their daughters" and a comic highpoint of Smith nonchalantly telling one to "give it up for your momma." "Flesh Thang" is particularly thrilling, with a racing piano attempting to keep pace with Smith's Black Francis-style yelps about "looking like a baby" and "shedding withered skin." At this early stage in the band's career, their trademark sound was already fully developed with cowbells, xylophones, ragged guitars, and all sorts of whimsical gizmos making for quite a lush cacophony. Sing-song harmonies, call-and-response-style song elements, wild tempo changes, and lyrics that are about as subtle as sledgehammers rule the day. Kramer's excellent, clean production makes sure the wild arrangements never fly off the handle. Tell Another Joke at the Ol' Choppin' Block is an accessible, bubbly joy from start to finish.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina