Son of Sam I Am

Too Much Joy

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Son of Sam I Am Review

by Stewart Mason

The second album by Westchester County, NY's Too Much Joy was originally released by the tiny California indie Alias records in 1989; Giant/Warner Bros. signed the group in 1990 and reissued the album in a slightly modified form. The Giant CD adds two tracks, a thrashy version of the wimp-rock classic "Seasons in the Sun" and the autobiographical "If I Was a Mekon," a tribute to the venerable English post-punkers recorded after the young group had opened several New York shows for them. (The reissue also removes a Bozo the Clown sample from "Clowns" and muffles an offending line from the end of "That's a Lie.") In either form, Son of Sam I Am is a measurable improvement over Too Much Joy's scattershot debut, 1987's Green Eggs and Crack. Both the songs and the playing are far improved, and the addition of full-time drummer Tommy Vinton helps immensely. Most of the songs are sweet-and-sour power pop along the lines of the first single, "Making Fun of Bums," but the key track is the group's complete overhaul of LL Cool J's "That's a Lie." An early example of rap-rock crossover, the new version emphasizes the catchiness of the chorus, replacing the original's dialogue between LL and manager Russell Simmons with everyday mendacities like "Hey, we should have lunch!" and "Just one glass of wine with dinner, officer," set to a thumping guitar pop riff. (Another cover, an unlisted version of the Clash's "Train in Vain," is an unlisted bonus track on the end of the disc, รก la London Calling.) The group's next two albums would be their artistic and, such as they were, sales high points, but Son of Sam I Am is a solid step up from Too Much Joy's ramshackle debut.

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