Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People – We Need a New F-Word

Mr. Dressup is dead but Friendly Rich is alive and well. We Need a New F-Word merges sly wit, phantasmagoric imagery, and understated carnivalesque musicality. It’s the first album by Rich to successfully bring his surreal, manic songs to record. Credit not only to Rich’s obvious maturation as an artist, but also to his close collaboration with producer and mixer Bobby Wiseman. Under the influence of Wiseman, Rich replaces screeching and grinding with understated vocals and a reined in back-up band (cello, accordion, banjo, bassoon, harp) that lurches wonderfully from country to oompa-oompa without ever allowing theatrical excess to undermine the ghoulish irreverence of these songs. And what songs they are – moody declarations exploring the limits mortality imposes on man. The Ballad of George Chuvalo is an elegy to a noble, battered warrior forced to watch his wife and three sons all die before their time. The Ayatollah charts a lengthy series of regretful realizations — “I will never eat the worm-infested apple. And I will never commit an original sin.” In Science Diet, Rich quietly laments that it’s “just a matter of time before we all get jerked.” Despite the doom and gloom, the eclectic weirdness of this album and its impeccable orchestration keep it from descending into campy morbidity. Play this CD at your favourite clown’s funeral. Play this CD when the Friendly Giant comes for you. (Hal Niedzviecki)

CD, www.friendlyrich.com

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