It's easy to compare any singer to their best work, though not always very helpful. In fact, comparing Far Side of the World to A-1-A or A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean is a little like comparing steak to seafood. They're simply two different entrées, and while someone may like steak and dislike seafood, a number of discerning individuals like both. Critics and certain fans may prefer Jimmy Buffett's 1970s output, but the head parrot has long ago sailed on to smoother waters. It's probably more helpful to compare Far Side of the World to albums like Banana Wind and Fruitcakes, where Buffett settled into his role as elder statesman of sun, surf, and sand fantasies. First of all, the arrangements and production on Far Side of the World vary quite a bit from these earlier 1990s efforts. The rich vocal harmony in "Blue Guitar" evokes Paul Simon's Graceland, while the dirty slide guitar of "Last Man Standing" casts a glance back at Little Feat. Still, the basic approach remains the same. Funny songs like "What if the Hokey-Pokey Is All It Really Is About?" remind one of "Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost" (Fruitcakes), while self-referential pieces like "Altered Boy" recall "Only Time Will Tell" and "Cultural Infidel" (Banana Wind). Buffett talks his way through much of the eight-minute "Autour du Rocher," just as he talks his way through much of "Overkill" (Banana Wind) and "Fruitcakes" (Fruitcakes). There are tender moments and outrageous ones, all signifying that only one person could've made this album. Far Side of the World holds up well to Fruitcakes and Banana Wind, and more important still, parrotheads will love it.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.