Midget Handjob

Midnight Snack Break at the Poodle Factory

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In the late '70s and 1980s, Keith Morris epitomized punk rock in Los Angeles. From 1977-1979, he was Black Flag's original lead singer; and it wasn't long after leaving Black Flag that he formed the equally angry, equally incendiary the Circle Jerks. But like John Lydon, Henry Rollins, Exene, and many other punk icons, Morris didn't remain a full-time punk artist. He inevitably branched out into other styles of music, and his Midget Handjob project doesn't sound anything like either Black Flag or the Circle Jerks. 2000's Midnight Snack Break at the Poodle Factory, in fact, isn't punk at all; it's an eccentric, quirky, humorous blend of spoken word, alternative rock, and avant-garde jazz. Morris does very little singing on this intriguing, if uneven, CD; instead, he puts his own spin on spoken word while his Midget Handjob band provides some abstract, left of center rock/jazz accompaniment. Tracks like "Harry the Dentist" and "Jackhammer Floral Arrangement" are very tongue-in-cheek. While some spoken word artists take themselves much too seriously, Morris is good for some laughs. At times, Midnight Snack is too self-indulgent for its own good, which is a common problem in the spoken word field. But some of the time, he is clever and genuinely witty on a CD that finds him talking about everything from medical problems to noisy neighbors to drunken misadventures in New Orleans. Midnight Snack isn't easy to absorb on the first listen, but after playing the disc several times, listeners will find it to be an often entertaining, though imperfect, effort that has more ups than downs.

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