John Forster

Entering Marion

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"You don't need me any more," said Tom Lehrer after he heard this album. "You have John Forster." This was high praise from the reclusive master of comedy music, but most critics agree that it was deserved. On Entering Marion Forster slung barbed songs in all directions and arranged them with sheer genius -- listen to the way he skewered Paul Simon in "Fusion," using music from Simon's whole career. Elsewhere he sings a children's song for kids who fail nursery school, a love song for people who regard love as a psychological disease, and what has to be the first country song about cyber-crime. ("This guy held up Chase Manhattan, unarmed and all alone/With just a trusty home computer that was hooked up to his phone," from "Silicon Slim.") The musical puns and lyrical shots keep coming throughout the album, and the quality is high throughout. (Given that Forster wrote for other artists for six years before releasing his album, one suspects that plenty of minor material was tossed aside.) One of the most brilliant moments is "Way Down Deep, You're Shallow," a love song from one really unlovable person to another. It's a ruthless parody of slick pop, and the duet between Forster and Christine Lavin hits a perfect smarmy note . The title cut was a staple on Dr. Demento's show for years and is still the theme song for a whole section of Massachusetts. The only weak track is "Whole," a song about German reunification which was a bit outdated by the time the album appeared. That one flaw aside, Entering Marion still delights listeners who savor satire and parody expertly wedded to musical craftsmanship.

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