The Foremen

What's Left?

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The Foremen grew a bit more stylistically ambitious on their second (and last) album for Reprise; while songwriter and lead vocalist Roy Zimmerman continued to poke fun at both contemporary politics and '60s-style folk music with songs like "What Did You Do on Election Day" and "California Couldn't Pay Our Education," this time out the group began having fun with the archetypes of folk-rock, which made for a more diverse album as well as making a subtle play on all the folk acts who suddenly picked up electric guitars after Bob Dylan recorded Bringing It All Back Home. "San Diego" takes Scott McKenzie's flower power ode to San Francisco and turns it into a salute to the land of Yuppies and Republicans, while the closing "Chicago (Love Song to a Democrat)" is one of two wicked Simon & Garfunkel parodies and a pitiless attack on toothless liberals. Elsewhere, "Three Strikes and You're Out" has a 12-string guitar line that Roger McGuinn would doubtless recognize, and "Hidden Agenda"'s electric guitars make a good match for its lyrical paranoia. The Foremen's musical satire takes a number of other forms, as well, such as the swashbuckling orchestration of "Privateers of the Public Airwaves," the uneasy lullaby "My School Prayer," the playful swing of "Who Needs Art?" and the beatnik poet's recitation "Black." While the arrangements and production (by Jim Ed Norman and Andy Paley) are glossier on What's Left?, what really carries the album is Zimmerman's smart, sharply witty songs and the superb harmonies from his bandmates Doug Whitney, Kenny Rhodes, and Andy Corwin, and if the specifics of some of the jokes have dated a bit, the larger points tend to remain relevant, and will probably continue to be, for good or ill.

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