Acoustic Blow Monkeys
added: 15 May 2012
// release date: 23 Apr 2012 // label: Fen Cat
reviewer: Dan MacIntosh
Listening to Dr Robert’s Acoustic Blow Monkeys is a little like spending time with a smarter, more grounded Boy George. The two have similar vocal tones. They also have a political-social bent to their songs. However, whereas Boy George went a little overboard playing dress up with Culture Club, Dr Robert kept his focus primarily on just the music with The Blow Monkeys.
These stripped down, acoustic songs spend a lot of time speaking out about social politics and religion. The big hit, “Digging You Scene,” for instance, finds a guy feeling more than a little empathy for the gay scene. “Come On Down” may also be a gay-friendly songs, as it reprimands god for being impatient and retaliatory with mankind whenever pitiful humans sin. It’s not clear just who Robert is speaking about during “Slaves No More.” It could just be a broad generalization about the mistreated ones in our modern world.
When Dr Robert labels his album ‘acoustic,’ he’s not just blowing smoke. Almost every one of these songs is driven by acoustic guitar. Unlike the whole unplugged trend in the ‘80s, when groups stretched the definition beyond reason with performances that where hardly acoustic, let alone unplugged, Dr Robert stays true to his aims. Ironically, Los Angeles radio station KROQ puts on what it calls an Almost Acoustic Christmas concert. With that label, there’s more than enough wiggle room for any act not quite ready to pull the plug on their electricity.
When the bells and whistles are stripped away, all that’s left is the bare song. And it better be a fine song to stand up to such scrutiny. Fortunately, Dr Robert songs stand up extremely well. The singer/songwriter also seems extremely comfortable singing them this way. Those that remember Dr Robert & the Blow Monkeys fondly from the ‘80s, won’t be disappointed by this quieted down revisit.
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