The Simpsons Sing The Blues
David Geffen Co., 1990
REVIEW BY: Benny Balneg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/21/2007
The show was able to produce some of the most memorable television episodes in recent memory (Homer’s Phobia, anyone?) and ranks as one of the best things spawned by popular culture. The Simpsons Sing The Blues simply furthers the later statement.
All of the elements of that made the show zany and brilliant are tangible in the album, which pays homage to blues music with help from other notable musicians. Homer’s rousing performance on “Born Under A Bad Sign,” accompanied with legendary blues guitarist B.B. King, and Lisa’s lazy and browbeaten delivery on “Moanin’ Lisa Blues” help in keeping the vibe of Motown in the album.
Although Mr. Burns only appears on the affectionately titled “Look At All Those Idiots,” it is the only track that was able to fully capture the show’s substantial idiosyncrasy, due to the character’s acrid demeanor that was kept intact with acidic lyrics and offbeat arrangement of the music. Take note of Smithers’ awesome bluesy lead, much to the dismay of Mr. Burns, who feels that the lead was “starting to grate.” Funny stuff.
Some of the songs, however, disengage itself from the blues tag and incorporate more contemporary elements in their sound. The chart-topping single “Do The Bartman,” aside from its catchy beat and infectious chorus, sees Bart chartering into hip-hop territory during verses. The beat-heavy “Deep Deep Troble” works with the same effect while having DJ Jazzy Jeff provide the scratches.
But what ultimately makes the album such a joy to listen to is the more subdued yet equally riveting material. There is obviously an inspired vibe while listening to the album, but the Simpson who was able to properly channel this was Lisa, voiced by Yeardley Smith, who is simply on another level. Her genuine take of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” is brilliantly enchanting. The sincerity of the whole performance was magnified when Lisa requested “Bleeding Gums” Murphy for the music to be performed by live musicians. The outro of sax ad-libbing ends the song with style and class.
“Sibling Rivalry” is the closing track that chronicles both Bart and Lisa’s love-hate-but-more-on-the-hate relationship appropriately realized with full-blown choir and bombastic arrangements, akin to Broadway fashion. Bart and Lisa’s emotional performance filled with comedy climaxing on drama perfectly captures both their struggles as brother and sister. With that said, this is the best track of the album.
I cannot gloat further at the fact that The Simpsons Sing The Blues is the perfect musical accompaniment to the show’s quirky appeal. For those planning to revel in the brilliance of the television series, and even for those interested in unlocking the secret of the show’s success, now is the time to get your blues on.
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