Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jan & Dean: “Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings” (2017) CD Review

What is stranger – Jan & Dean’s original master for Filet Of Soul or the story behind it? I’m not sure, but you can enjoy both, thanks to the recent release from Omnivore Recordings, which includes liner notes by Dean Torrence. Who sets out to make a mediocre album? Well, according to Dean, Jan & Dean did just that when they owed one more album to Liberty Records and didn’t want to give them any good material. It’s a goofy recording, and at times they seem to be totally fucking around. There are jokes and band introductions and sound effects and plenty of silliness, and also their renditions of a few Beatles songs. The album’s title itself is a play on The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and two of the Beatles songs they cover are from that album. This is certainly not background music for a party or anything. It’s an album that demands your attention, but mainly as a curiosity. Sure, they’re screwing around with their record label (which rejected this master and released a different version), but they’re also poking fun at themselves and at their popularity, and having a good time doing it. After all, there was always a bit of comedy to their work, and here they seem to be telling folks to not only not take this record too seriously but to not take any of their records too seriously. (You can see their playful attitude in The T.A.M.I. Show, which is also mentioned in this disc’s liner notes.) The album might try your patience at times, but it is bizarrely fascinating and most likely unlike anything else in your CD collection.

The album opens with some fanfare, like we’re about to be introduced to royalty in a film, but then suddenly there is the sound of a rooster and applause, and Jan & Dean play “Honolulu Lulu,” a fun surf tune about the “queen of surfer girls.” The tracks on this record were recorded live, with other elements added, so you can hear the audience noise throughout the tune. “She's got stars in her eyes and knots on her knees.” The second track, the section titled “Boys Down At The Plant,” shows their sense of humor. “Now we’ll continue on with our show. Of course we’ll continue on. What can we do? We can’t stop. Or else we won’t get any money. Of course, money is the most important thing. And we’d like to do another song for you. Ah, we don’t know any more.” What a perfect way of saying straight out what this album – a contractual obligation – is all about. And about their own music, they say, “We dig ourselves. We love our music. Our music is great. We know it’s great, don’t we?” It goes on a bit longer than necessary, and this silliness leads into a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown,” with their vocals sounding really good. Following that song, and still on the same track, the duo teases the people who bought their single “Dead Man’s Curve.” “We made a few bucks on it. All those pigeons that went out and bought it.” They fumble through a couple of jokes about a woman going into a bar with different animals. They then take “Dead Man’s Curve,” one of their biggest hits, and totally fuck with it, speeding up the recording as it starts, then talking through the section addressed to the doctor while laughing. It’s totally bizarre.

When they introduce the Beatles section of their show, whenever they mention the name “Beatles,” you hear girls scream as if The Beatles had just appeared, which is pretty funny. “And then if that doesn’t work, we split.” But before they can get to a song, there are more band introductions (there were some before “Dead Man’s Curve”). They then do a version of “Michelle” which is actually quite good. “Michelle” is one of the songs from Rubber Soul. After more nonsense, they do a good rendition of another of the Rubber Soul songs, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” with some pretty blending of voices. They also cover “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” a song from Help! (and one of my favorite Beatles songs), with the audience providing the “hey” in the title line.

Jan and Dean poke more fun at themselves and their show when introducing “Lightnin’ Strikes,” Lou Christie’s hit: George Tipton, “who arranged a lot of this slop tonight – no, it’s really good.” Several sound effects are played over this song, a strange choice. Toward the end of the CD, there is more goofiness, where they pretend to be a bit slow. “And now back to the, the, uh, the other part of the, the, the, the show.” This bit includes a joke on “Show Me The Way To Go Home.” There are sounds of retching and belching and coughing and laughing, and a joke about saying goodbye by repeating a line from The Four Seasons’ “Let’s Hang On” (without actually playing the song). And the CD ends with “Hang On Sloopy,” but with sounds of coughing and sneezing over it.

CD Track List
  1. Prelude/Honolulu Lulu
  2. Boys Down At The Plant/Cathy’s Clown/Pigeon Joke
  3. Brass Section Introductions/Dead Man’s Curve
  4. Beatle Part Of Our Portion/Rhythm Section Introduction/Michelle/Whistling Dixie
  5. We Want Jan & Dean/Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  6. 1-2-3
  7. Lightnin’ Strikes
  8. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  9. And Now Back To The Show/Let’s Hang On Introduction
  10. Hang On Sloopy/Jan & Dean, They’ll Be Back
Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings was released on September 1, 2017 through Omnivore Recordings. One other thing worth noting: there is a credit at the end of the liner notes that reads, “Inspired by Monty Python Circus.” It’s interesting for a couple of reasons. One, the show is actually called Monty Python’s Flying Circus. And two, that series didn’t air until after this album had been recorded. By the way, the Monty Python gang released an album titled Contractual Obligation Album, so there is another connection.

Oh, sorry, one last thing (really). Here is a photo of the actual CD, once again showing that this isn’t meant to taken seriously.

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