Martin Mull

Martin Mull

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Fans of Martin Mull's comic television work and satirical prose might be surprised by the actor/comedian's self-titled 1972 debut. Instead of a collection of comic sketches or standup routines, Martin Mull is a true singer/songwriter pop album, albeit one with often hilariously skewed lyrics, as in the opening "Ventriloquist Love," a plaintive piano ballad with the poignant chorus "Whenever I kiss you/Your lips never move." The Band's Levon Helm guests, as does Keith Spring of NRBQ auxiliary the Whole Wheat Horns, and much of Martin Mull sounds -- musically at least -- like it could pass for either of those bands, particularly on the surreal "Partly Marion." However, there's also a strong jazz influence weaving throughout the album, as on the Fats Waller-like boogie "Eggs" and the handful of bossa nova-influenced tunes like the sleepy singalong "Miami" and the alcoholic lament "Loser's Samba." (The absolutely gorgeous "Hors D'Oeuvre," a touching lover's farewell, is the highlight in this style, and proof that for all of his jokes, Mull is at heart a serious songwriter.) Fans of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks or perhaps anachronistic hipster Leon Redbone will adore this side of Mull's songwriting style, but overall, Mull is a unique talent, somewhere between Warren Zevon with a case of the giggles or a terminally mellow version of They Might Be Giants.

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