Spike Jones

Musical Depreciation Revue: The Spike Jones Anthology

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Given the sheer range of Jones' music over many years, a totally definitive compilation is probably out of the question, so this two-disc effort makes a conscious decision to steer away from Jones' later (and arguably much sappier) work, as well as mostly sidestepping the failure of the Other Orchestra. But it's all for the good, because Musical Depreciation Revue, another success from the Rhino Records crew, makes for a great introduction to the maddeningly wonderful work of Jones and his various crews of City Slickers. All the legendary jaw-droppers and head-scratchers are here -- "Der Fuehrer's Face," "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)," "Cocktails for Two," the manifold classical parodies -- plus plenty of odder and less-known efforts. There's even a true lost number, "By the Beautiful Sea," which in a precursor of the "obscene or not?" lyric wars of later generations was withdrawn because the line "then up for air" was heard as "then up her ass." Rhino's remastering job does the best it can with the original source discs and generally succeeds quite well, while a slew of photos and notes (from a perfect one-two team of Cub Koda and Dr. Demento) gives plenty of interesting background detail. They also make a really good case for Jones and his crew being the unheralded forebears to George Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelic empire. It may sound strange, but consider: a core central personality who acts more as conductor and ringleader than individual performer, a rotating lineup adjusting and trying out different things over the years, and an emphasis on musical ability and nutty humor in equal measures. Jones may never have tried for the mothership, but in his own way he found his groove, and given all the non-musical noises he turned into music, who's to say he didn't help invent sample-based music as well?

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