Bongwater

Double Bummer/Breaking No New Ground!

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There was really no reason for Bongwater to continue making records after 1987's Double Bummer, as each album covered the same thematic ground with progressively less interesting results. (There's a reason why the band's second release, thoughtfully provided in toto on this CD reissue, was called, with admirable truthfulness, Breaking No New Ground!) Double Bummer, though, is as funny and weird and trippy as it was obviously meant to be. Ann Magnuson's spoken word bits, especially the tart "David Bowie Wants Ideas," are mostly right on, and the other guiding principle of the band, its oddball deconstructions of '60s pop songs, is at its most entertaining here, both in the choice of songs (Michael Nesmith's "You Just May Be the One," Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll, Pt. 2," and the ethnographic Led Zeppelin pisstake "Dazed and Chinese") and in the way Kramer and company, including free jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, upend the originals into new and intriguing forms. The pinnacle of the reinterpretations, however, is the EP's sensitive reworking of John Lennon's "Julia," which starts out with yet another of Kramer's cutesy found sound tapes yet quickly shifts into a reverent, thoughtful, and downright pretty psych pop version of the song, proving that when they weren't too busy being flip, superficial, and generally too hip for the room, the members of Bongwater were capable of actual feeling.