Saturday, January 19, 2013


YEAR:  1996
LABEL:  Shanachie
TRACK LISTING:  Andy Breckman tells us how he really feels  -  Andy Breckman,  Don't Get Killed  -  Andy Breckman,  The Cheneille Sisters give us their Bob Dylan Update  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Welcome To New York Don White  -  Don White,  Rascal  -  Don White,  Vance Rants  -  Vance Gilbert,  Country Western Rap  -  Vance Gilbert,  Act I:  Patty Larkin channels Marlene Dietrich  -  Patty Larkin,  Act II:  Marlene "hums" La Vie En Rose  -  Patty Larkin,  Act III:  At the Mall starring Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda & Ethel Merman  -  Patty Larkin,  Blow 'Em Away  -  Chuck Brodsky,  Potato  -  Cheryl Wheeler,  Welcome to New York Greg Greenway  -  Greg Greenway,  Massachusetts  -  Greg Greenway,  Dave's True Story asks:  Thinking of majoring in English Literature?  -  Dave's True Story,  Trollope  -  Dave's True Story,  Microwave Life  -  Megan O'Donough,  What is bothering Cliff Eberhardt now?  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Double Yodel  -  Lou & Peter Berryman,  Rob Carlson demonstrates the art of the international insult  -  Rob Carlson,  God Loves the Irish  -  Rob Carlson,  TV Talk  -  Sally Fingerett,  David Buskin goes out on a limb  -  David Buskin,  Hotline  -  David Buskin,  Slap Bang  -  Betty,  Dave Van Ronk gives himself advice - Dave Van Ronk,  Garden State Stomp  -  Dave Van Ronk,  I'm Bored  -  Christine Lavin,  Every Man For Himself  -  The Foremen,  Debi Smith on the bodhran, The Hags and Irish Pizza  -  Debi Smith,  Sleep  -  Debi Smith,  Tom Paxton explains the 80s  -  Tom Paxton,  Yuppies In the Sky  -  Tom Paxton and Company
BONUS TRACKS:  Laugh Track WFUV Laughers  -  Audience,  (These Eggs Were) Born To Run  -  Rob Carlson,  The Jackie O. Auction  -  Tom Paxton
IMPRESSIONS:  Folkie Christine Lavin has spearheaded many many cd collections of modern folk singer/songwriters for the last couple decades and she's still doing it (hence the recent holiday compilation "JUST ONE ANGEL").  They are usually formed around a central theme of songs about winter or autumn or food and here we have her mid-90s "funny folk songs" 2 cd set which were all recorded live during two nights at the Bottom Line.  As with any such collection, the "funniness" of the songs vary to mildly amusing to downright hilarious.  The presence of my beloved favourite Cheryl Wheeler doing her famous "Potato" song (to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance and only using the one word "potato") made the collection a must buy but there are quite a few more funny songs which make the collection worthwhile (if probably better suited to a cherry-picked single cd of the funniest songs).  Other funny highlights include Patty Larkin's three-act "At the Mall" during which she channels Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Ethel Merman with schizophrenic glee.  Rob Carlson's "God Loves the Irish" interposes the annual St. Patrick's Day parade with the Gay Rights parade with humorous results:  "And when we say 'Up the Irish'...that isn't what we mean!"  The charming Chenille Sisters (whom I've been a fan of since 1991) update Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)" with such lines as "How many roads must a man drive down before he admits he is lost."  Cliff Eberhardt laments the desanctification of St. Christopher in "Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)" while David Buskin's "Hotline" sidesplittingly examines the effects of budget cuts when the suicide hotline is combined with the information number of the public library.  In order to make your own edited-down single cd of the best stuff, I offer my favourite tracks listing below.  However, regardless of the laughter-quotient of some of the songs, the championing of current little-known but worthy folk singer/songwriters and the perpetuation of live performance makes any Christine Lavin compilation worthy.  In her own words from the liner notes:  "Some of the artists on these disks may be familiar to you, some may be discoveries, all of them are hard-working, talented singer/songwriters who have recorded many terrific albums.  I hope 'LAUGH TRACKS' will lead you to their full-length recorded works and to their fabulous live shows."  You certainly can't fault her motives.  As a side note, I actually saw a mini-concert similar to this one when my ex-girlfriend SFB bought tickets to see Cheryl Wheeler performing live locally in tandem with Patty Larkin, John Gorka and Cliff Eberhardt and that evening is one of the few things which I am indebted to her for.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Don't Get Killed  -  Andy Breckman,  Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Act I:  Patty Larkin channels Marlene Dietrich  -  Patty Larkin,  Act II:  Marlene "hums" La Vie En Rose  -  Patty Larkin,  Act III:  At the Mall  -  Patty Larkin,  Potato  -  Cheryl Wheeler,  Trollope  -  Dave's True Story,  (These Eggs Were) Born To Run  -  Rob Carlson,  Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Double Yodel  -  Lou & Peter Berryman,  God Loves the Irish  -  Rob Carlson,  Hotline  -  David Buskin,  Garden State Stomp  -  Dave Van Ronk
FACT SHEET:  LAUGH TRACKS is a 2 cd set of live performances by various folk artists instigated by Christine Lavin.  The concerts were recorded at the Bottom Line in New York City on the nights of June 22 & 23, 1996.

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