This release chronicles the return of the Fugs to the performance stage, which ironically began in 1984 at the height of Ronald Reganmania. However, if Refuse To Be Burnt-Out proves anything, the lesson is that it might be possible to take a freak out of the ‘60s … but you can never take the ‘60s out of a freak. The ‘80s Fugs features original members Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Saunders -- who have updated their sound without ever compromising their message. Compiled from several performances, Refuse To Be Burnt-Out is fairly evenly split between classics -- such as "CIA Man", "How Sweet I Roamed" and the sing-a-long favourite "Wide, Wide River -- as well as material penned especially for this reunion. Of particular note is a sublime "Fingers Of The Sun" -- a no nukes anthem originally located on the 1968 Tenderness Junction release. The newer compositions remain ever loyal to the ‘idealistic realities' that became running motifs throughout the Fugs history. Primary among these is the Kupferberg title "If You Want To Be President" which takes a poke at Regan's popular success with particular emphasis on the '82 fiasco in the Falkland Islands. The albums title track is a new composition which author Ed Saunders dedicates to the memory of Fugs who are no longer with us. As only he can, the words manifest indelible images effortlessly telling the tale on multiple levels. Reaching into the collective spirits of his former band mates, Saunders transforms Refuse To Be Burnt-Out from a peon and into High Mass. Kupferberg and Saunders head up a quartet of neo Fugs. The four-piece backing band schizophrenically enhances some pieces -- such as the leadoff track "The Five Feet" -- while alternately decimating others. The updated Fugs classic "Nova Slum Goddess" is a primary example.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer