What? And Give Up Showbiz?
Topical, humorous, multifariously virtuosic, and never afraid of a dirty joke, the Asylum Street Spankers have always been more at home on-stage than in the studio. This two-disc set documents the highlights from a two-week stint at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York, and offers a fairly predictable program of fan favorites ("Beer," "Winning the War on Drugs," "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV") augmented by extensive between-song patter. Not all of the patter is quite as funny as it really ought to be, but the performances are tight and energetic and anyone who misses the Squirrel Nut Zippers or enjoys the political Great Folk Scare stylings of the Foremen will get a big kick out of this band. There's also some throat singing, a musical saw, a blistering version of "Got My Mojo Workin'" (sung by the brilliant Christina Marrs), more than one puerile novelty number (most notably the sniggering "My Country's Calling Me"), and a handful of brilliant, fully realized originals as well: note in particular Marrs' spectacular period piece "Monkey Rag." The album's most potentially embarrassing moment -- a putative country-rap fusion titled "Hick Hop" -- somehow manages to avoid being deeply embarrassing and succeeds at being merely boring. Overall, this is a good two-disc set that would have been an excellent one-disc set -- but since it's priced like a single disc, there's no reason to complain.