From the '30s and '40s to the '90s -- from jazz to country to hip-hop -- there have been plenty of artists who made humor an integral part of their music. That was true of Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and Louis Armstrong during jazz's pre-bebop era; it is equally true of artists who range from George Clinton and Frank Zappa to the Fat Boys to folk-rock singer Christine Lavin. And much to their credit, all of those artists knew/know how to be funny without becoming novelty acts. The same goes for Bargain Music, whose The Magic Is Over underscores the fact that the Los Angeles trio shouldn't be placed in the novelty category. Their lyrics tend to be humorous and quirky, although not in an over the top way -- they aren't as outright wacky as someone like Adam Brodsky, a seriously talented folk-rock/anti-folk singer from Philadelphia. Nonetheless, The Magic Is Over is good for some laughs, and even without their humorous lyrics, Bargain Music would inspire admiration on a musical level. This 2003 release essentially falls into the alternative rock category, although Bargain Music successfully incorporates everything from reggae to country to heavy metal. Funk-rock is an especially strong inspiration, and many of the people who have influenced them are funk-rock experts -- people who include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Living Colour, and Prince. In fact, the album includes a lively cover of Prince's "The Beautiful Ones" (from Purple Rain) as well as a remake of Neil Young's "Music Arcade." This CD isn't perfect; while some of the tracks are excellent, others aren't as memorable. But The Magic Is Over definitely has many more ups than downs, and Bargain Music deserves credit for providing an album that is eclectic and far-reaching without sounding confused or unfocused.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson