Jimmy Buffett


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The best thing about Jimmy Buffett's Fruitcakes is the perpetually over-served Key Wester's Howard Beale impersonation on the album's title track. Like many of us, Buffett is angry about enormous movie theater sodas, crazy people walking around with mud in their eyes, and the screwy nature of modern religion and relationships. His gripe is delivered via a half-spoken ramble over a typical Caribbean lope that's as forgettable as it is recognizable. The song works not because it rehashes the same temperate groove, but because Buffett's rap sails so close to the infectious on-stage persona that's become his five-star meal ticket in recent years. The album's other standouts work for the same reason. A pastel cover of the Grateful Dead's "Uncle John's Band," the jaunty "Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost," and "Lone Palm," which looks at life from under just such a tree, all ring with that faded T-shirt vibe so prevalent in Buffett's best work. Along with the touching daughterly tribute "Delaney Talks to Statues," these slices of Fruitcakes further the fantasy of landlocked Parrotheads everywhere, the one that makes that final margarita okay, banishes winter to an old tin can, and shakes white sand into every crevice of the office cubicle. Earnest ballads like "Love in the Library" are nice, but Buffett's cheeky rhymes and effectively simplistic playing just can't support them with the sophistication -- or seriousness -- they deserve. His Panama Jack pirate act is a one trick pony, no question. But it has limitless legs and is continually sold on the fact that everyone wants to be Jimmy Buffett some of the time. Fruitcakes' most memorable morsels make this wish come true, if only for a few surf-soaked minutes.

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