Lock 'n Load

Denis Leary

A & M Records, 1993


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Following the release of his album No Cure For Cancer in 1993, Denis Leary's career took off faster than Rodney King running from the LAPD. I can't even begin to count the movies he's appeared in - and I'm too lazy to look it up on the Internet Movie Database. But like many comedians who suddenly find some level of fame, Leary's genius as an on-stage comic fell to the wayside.

Lock 'N Load, Leary's 1997 follow-up to No Cure For Cancer, features Leary in true form, ranting about the world we all live in, even if his style has calmed down just a notch. But the constant reliance on goofy songs and skits that break up the flow of the monologue end up hurting this album.

Granted, No Cure For Cancer featured a total of four musical numbers - three of which were studio efforts. And I have to admit that "Life's Gonna Suck" is hilarious - especially Leary's declaration at the end, "Well I think I smell a lawsuit in that one." But Leary is a my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 comedian, first and foremost, and the numerous songs and skits just don't carry the same punch as his on-stage banter does.

"Save This" tries to make fun of all the organizations dedicated to protecting animals, but it doesn't have the anger that a song like "Asshole" did. As for "Insane Cowboy (In Africa)" and "Love Barge," the latter a half-assed cover of the theme from "The Love Boat" - Dennis, c'mon, what the hell were you thinking? Oh, and as for "A Reading From The Book Of Apple," isn't it bad enough that people lived through Fiona Apple's rambling speech on MTV? Why do we have to hear it again and again? (Hey, look - "Deaf Mute Cocktail Party" is actually something of Leary's that could be played on the radio!)

The live bits on Lock 'N Load, however, do make up the slack. Leary is in his natural element pointing out how stupid some aspects of society have become to the flock in the audience. Whether it's Michael Flatley, Starbucks, Samuel Adams or even the Catholic Church in his sights, Leary's rapid-fire delivery of ridicule and anger is right on target, proving that Leary is only getting better as a comedian as time passes.

Leary even saves some ammo for his own life on "My Kids," as he dares to open up his own life to the crowd - and his own scorn. Any parent will appreciate some of the subjects Leary talks about, from noise-making toys to surprises found in one's VCR. Too much of this rings true, especially as the parent of a five-year-old - though I commend Leary for not copying Bill Cosby in terms of questioning a child why they did something. (I think Leary will back me up here, when I say the three favorite words of a child are "I don't know.")

The final bit, "Lock 'N Load," is a continuation of the theme from "Fuck The Pope," though Leary's rant sounds like it was recorded in the studio rather than in front of an audience. Nevertheless, it's one of the more creative bits on the disc, and allows Leary to show his talents in a new format.

Lock 'N Load is similar to No Cure For Cancer, yet is fundamentally different than the first album. Leary is still hands-down one of the best comedians I've ever heard, right up there with Robin Williams. But if Leary ever graces us with a third album (and I'm hoping he will soon), please - please - drop the songs and the sketches!

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.