Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Family Guy - Live In Vegas C.d. Oversteps Satirical And Goes For Raunchy.

The Good: Funny for a listen or two, Bonus DVD
The Bad: Does not hold up over multiple listens, Goes for a lot of cheap jokes.
The Basics: A perfectly average musical endeavor, Family Guy - Live In Vegas is funny, but does not hold up over multiple listens.

Whenever I sit down to write a review of a compact disc, I try to have a lot to say and to analyze it with some level of sophistication and depth, but I'm sitting down for the fourth time to get a review of Family Guy - Live In Vegas reviewed and I'm having trouble writing anything worthwhile and long enough to be a full, true review. I keep coming up drastically short and I'm hoping four times is a charm because I need to get some reviews written if I'm going to hit the limit on the current ten-for promotion!

Family Guy was canceled and before it was brought back for its third season and its new, longer run than it had the first time around. Before it returned to television, it sold millions of DVD boxed sets and Seth MacFarlane and his team created a compact disc called Family Guy - Live In Vegas. Just like the television show, Family Guy - Live In Vegas is intended for an adult audience and the parental advisory sticker is not just for show. This is an adult humor album and it pulls no punches in that regard.

With 15 tracks clocking in at 67:39, Family Guy - Live In Vegas is a comedy soundtrack for an event that never happened in reality. As a result, unlike albums like The Simpsons Songs In The Key Of Springfield, where the album is a compilation of the music that appeared on television, this c.d. is a collection of new tracks that are designed to portray a concert that never actually happened and the concept is not a bad one.

With a rat-pack style show, the Griffins auditorly appear on stage after being introduced by Diane Simmons. With a swinging sense of theatrical style, they do an extended version of the Family Guy theme which utilizes the entire family and sets up the rest of the album as a combination of serious musical expression (Seth MacFarlane cannot seem to resist the urge to croon as Brian) and various levels of musical comedy. Throughout the album, the music varies from serious ("The Last Time I Saw Paris") to Sonny and Cher style musical banter ("But I'm Yours") to theatrical musical type duets ("Babysitting Is A Bum Deal") to flat-out satire ("All Cartoons Are Fuckin' Dicks").

Like a "Weird Al" album, there is a cover section and appropriately, Brian and Stewie perform a song called "T.V. Medley." In that song, Brian and Stewie go back and forth presenting souped up versions of the theme songs to Charles In Charge, The Golden Girls, Family Ties, Diff'rent Strokes, Silver Spoons, Growing Pains and two others. This song is mildly interesting as a child of the 80s for the nostalgia value of hearing the upbeat, swinging versions of classic television theme songs.

The songs, though, quickly becomes something that it is very clear could never have passed on television. "Babysitting Is A Bum Deal" has Haylie Duff and Stewie quipping back and forth about just how terrible Stewie can be while she is babysitting him. There are references that are violent, gross (bathroom humor) and directly antagonistic. And it's funny . . . at least the first time.

Actually, the funniest track consistently is also one of the most shocking. On "The 'Q' Man Loves Nobody," the first listen will delight the listener with the simple amusement of the appearance of Patti LuPone on the album. She sings a duet with Quagmire and Quagmire basically dumps her on stage while the two sing back and forth about Quagmire's conniving ways that he gets women and uses them for sex before discarding them.

Family Guy - Live In Vegas is edgy in that regard in that it is not bound by television standards. As a result, Peter Griffin's usual "freakin'" is able to morph into the more direct Stewie and Brian singing "fuckin'" on tracks like "All Cartoons Are Fuckin' Dicks." But just as "The 'Q' man Loves Nobody" makes light of Quagmire spreading STDs and singing about it, Herbert appears to present "One Boy," where he sings about his pedophilic desire for Chris Griffin (which is his whole point on the television show and later they would do a much more tame version of than this song), and Chris singing in a straightforward manner about his fears of puberty with "Puberty's Gonna Get Me."

And the songs are generally funny. There's the shock value of hearing Peter and Lois go back and forth with all of the things they had before each other on "But Then I Met You" and there's the outright humor of "All Cartoons Are Fuckin' Dicks," but it does not take long before the album loses its punch.

Humor works best on surprise and as a result when one knows the line that's coming next, it pretty much guts the humor of the song. Family Guy - Live In Vegas does not hold up well as a humor album over many listens. After about five, I put it on my shelf for years before pulling it back out to review it now.

The only thing that truly, ultimately, surprises a listener about Family Guy - Live In Vegas is how well Seth MacFarlane can sing! As Brian, Stewie, and Peter, McFarlane presents radically different voices and the fact that he can sing in them and keep in character is pretty amazing. But on songs like "Dear Booze," where he sings as Brian, he reveals a pretty wonderful, smooth, slow voice that actually resonates.

All of the songs are set to the music of Family Guy composer Walter Murphy and his orchestra. The resulting, dominate sound of this humor album is a big, theatrical orchestral presentation and it remains true to that. There are guest vocal appearances by Haylie Duff, Jason Alexander, and Patti Lupone. Hearing the guest celebrities adds a feel of the concept of a live performance of this type and it's somewhat surprising that Lupone and Alexander participated, though their bits are funny.

With the c.d. comes a DVD called "Stewie's Sexy Party," which is a one track music video with behind the scenes of Stewie rapping; it holds up less well than the primary album, though at the time, it was pretty cool seeing anything "Family Guy" and I recall it being much more fun then. Stewie mixes with live action people for the music video and it's amusing . . . once.

Ultimately, though, the disc is amusing and will entertain fans of Family Guy, but even those fans will tire of this with even medium rotation. People who are not fans of "Family Guy" are unlikely to get a kick out of this musical effort.

The best track is "The 'Q' Man Loves Nobody" and the low point was the overly serious "Slightly Out Of Tune."

For other animated works by Seth MacFarlane, please check out my reviews of:
Family Guy Volume 1
Family Guy Volume 2
Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story
Family Guy Volume 3
Family Guy Volume 4
Family Guy Volume 5
Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest
Family Guy Volume 6
Family Guy Volume 7
Family Guy Presents Something, Something, Something Dark Side
Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade Of Cartoon Comedy
Family Guy Volume 8
Family Guy Presents Partial Terms Of Endearment
Family Guy Presents It's A Trap!


For other music reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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