Friday, September 10, 2010

The Enduring Fun Of "God Shuffled His Feet" By Crash Test Dummies!

The Good: Fun lyrics, impressive voice!
The Bad: Generally fluffy, not terribly serious
The Basics: a pleasant surprise of enduring entertainment value! A FUN work. Rounds out a serious collection very well for better days!

Every once in a while a musical album comes along that is humorous and just plain entertaining. The vast majority of them fade quickly because the initial shock or pleasant nature of the work degrades upon multiple listens and you end up taking the album to the nearest shop that takes used tapes and c.d.s. God Shuffled His Feet is an eclectic work that goes against the nature of something that is simple entertainment. That is to say that the album has catchy tunes, but there's something more to it, something that endures over years.

Back in 1993, many radio stations played the hugely original "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" which had a sound outside the mainstream and a storytelling ability on par with most folk singers. But it was released at the perfect time, a socially responsible song about the freaks we all dismiss, it was genius. A few radio stations actually followed up with the satirical, literary allusion packed "Afternoons & Coffeespoons." These two tracks are some of the best on the album but they are representative of the nature of the work - it is not mainstream. Thankfully.

Opening with the downright funny God Shuffled His Feet the band lets their audience know they're in for something special. After years and many many listens, the enduring originality and quality of these songs endures. Brad Roberts is, if not an excellent writer, an interesting one and his trademark deep voice fills the vocals with the body that the lyrics sometimes lack.

It's one thing to say a piece is fluff or entertainment and while God Shuffled His Feet is the latter, it is not the former. Brad brings insight in the magnificent "I Think I'll Disappear Now" and plays upon the pretention of artists with a catchy tune in "When I Go Out With Artists."

However, it's not the entertainment value and lack of serious demeanor in the majority of the tracks that prevents God Shuffled His Feet from being a perfect album. While the album is short enough as it is, the Crash Test Dummies didn't quit while they were ahead. "The Psychic" expertly ends the album, it is the perfect denouement for the bizarre, fun, and brilliant songs that precede it. And yet, "The Psychic" is followed by the narrative "Two Knights and Maidens" and "Untitled." They feel added. They seem unnecessary. That's not to say that the instrumental and the final tale of lust aren't good songs. They're just placed wrong and would have served better earlier on the album or on a different album altogether.

God Shuffled His Feet is easily shelved for a few years, but you'll find yourself recalling a tune and you'll pull it back out and love it again (and find yourself listening to it more again!) because it isn't just fluff even though it is fun. The best track on every level is "I Think I'll Disappear Now" and the weak link is "Two Knights and Maidens"


For other music reviews of mine, please check out my index page!

© 2001, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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