Flo & Eddie

Illegal, Immoral and Fattening

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After issuing a pair of thoroughly excellent albums on Reprise Records, the Phlorescent Leech & Eddie aka Flo & Eddie -- who were embodied by Mark Volman (Flo) (vocals/guitar) and Howard Kaylan (Eddie) (vocals) -- moved over to the Columbia label for two additional LPs Illegal, Immoral and Fattening (1975) and Moving Targets (1976). The contents of the former are split between studio and live material containing considerable overdubs. The support backup band for the project consists of West Coast session talents Phil Reed (lead guitar), Erik Scott (bass), Andy Cahan (keyboards), and Craig Krampf (drums) -- with one notable exception that will be dealt with shortly. As the anti-authoritarian title track "Illegal, Immoral & Fattening" instantly reveals, the performances are victims of -- or perhaps too-accurately parody -- mid-'70s glam metal, which is heavier and may come off as slightly pretentious when compared to their earlier outings. What certainly has not escaped them are their immutable vocal harmonies or the vicious Flo & Eddie sense of funny business. Kaylan and Volman's tenure as co-founders of 1960s folk-rockers the Turtles likewise reveal their remarkable sensitivity when interpreting ballads. Their version of Albert Hammond's "Rebecca" and the catchy, lithe "Let Me Make Love to You" are this platter's quintessential examples. Fellow Turtles and Mothers of Invention member Jim Pons is co-credited with the first of several obligatory cuts to feature their mature-theme gags circa the Mothers' anything goes stage shows under Zappa's baton. "Kama Sutra Time" -- which also handily pokes fun at Elton John and T. Rex -- as well as the "Sanzini Brothers Return," are filled with plenty of locker-room humor. Then there is the case of the rapid, multi-syllabic "Tiberian Memory Trick" tongue twister. This famous bit of convoluted conversation was handed down from the likes of Del Moore and Jerry Lewis. By the time Danny Kaye began incorporating it into his act, it was named "The Tibetan Memory Trick." And it remained an integral part of Flo & Eddie's stage act ever after. The funky, wah wah driven "Livin' in the Jungle" and the demented power ballad "Cheap" are on par with their best straight-ahead rockers -- although the term "straight-ahead" is definitely relative. The "Kung-Fu Killer" is a brilliant piece of live shtick that -- on-stage at least -- seems to have developed out of an update of the Turtles' hit "You Showed Me." They draw upon the concurrent pop hit "Kung Fu Fighting" and even the Doors' Oedipal climax to "The End" before remaking the Mothers' classic "Eddie, Are You Kidding?" circa Just Another Band from L.A. (1972) appropriately enough. "The Pop Star Massage Unit" is another sexually suggestive wink and nod that also includes allusions to "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and "My Sweet Lord." Wrapping up the effort is a rock & roll spin on Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business" that boasts a significantly different combo of all-stars -- namely Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar (guitar), Leland Sklar (bass), Ian Underwood (keyboards), and Aynsley Dunbar (drums). In 2007, Illegal, Immoral and Fattening as well as Moving Targets were issued onto a single two-fer CD from the U.K.-based Evangeline reissue imprint.

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