Mambo Kurt

Organized Crime

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"The principle is very simple", as one of Douglas Adams' characters once said. In the case of Mambo Kurt, it is just that: a very simple principle. Sort of. Mambo Kurt and his music, put simply, can be summed up like this: A German feller plus a cheap home organ/beatbox combination covers various hard rock/metal/punk songs in a lounge style. The end. That said, even if other albums and other bands like Grunge Lite and Richard Cheese (and arguable forebear SeƱor Coconut) have gone down variations of a similar track before. On Organized Crime, Mambo Kurt's collection of covers is worth listening to -- even if only once, as will be the case for most. The selection is both inspired and odd -- nothing wrong with two AC/DC tracks per se, but having one of them be "Thunderstruck" makes for an odd way to kick things off, even if the replication of the guitar solo is a laugh. Kurt's nasal drawl (and occasional wimp-out falsetto) is part of the loving idiocy of this whole thing, but his replication of cover songs amounts to his reduction of the original arrangements, which, of course, brings with it most of the hilarity to be had listening to him. The start of "Hells Bells," for example, is truly ridiculous, while other moments of stupefaction include Turbonegro's "Prince of the Rodeo" turned into a John Barry knock-off -- sort of -- and the nerd-spaz-new wave-dancefloor freak-out for the Cure's "Killing an Arab." At certain points, the massed choral vocals hint at what Laibach might have been, had they been based in Vegas rather than Slovenia. Ultimately, the best performances come courtesy of the tracks that are the most originally giddy, where the winsomeness makes a perfect sense -- thus the Ramones' "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" becomes even more of a bubbly affair, while the arrangement is almost nearly duplicated for Green Day's "Basket Case." Then there's the cover of "Anarchy in the UK" with guest vocalist Heidi Schultz, complete with semi-smarmy introduction -- but even that's trumped by Schultz' delivery of the introduction of Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast." (The song itself will perhaps cause most fans of said band to seize up and die, especially when Kurt starts aping Bruce Dickinson's falsetto.) Unlisted bonus: a perfectly merry cover of Laid Back's Euro/South American hit "Sunshine Reggae."

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