" A treasure trove of Squirrel
nuts... The 'Not-So-Bright Side
Of The Moon' album is amazing! The Squirrels RULE ALL!"
(NW comedian/TV & radio personality)
& the like on
"The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
"The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
Reviewed by Bill Snyder
The line between tribute and parody is sometimes very thin, but few have walked it as carefully as indie supergroup the Squirrels do with this track-for-track reworking of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. More in the whacked-out vein of Frank Zappa than the goofy one of Weird Al, the album packs plenty of gags. In the end, though, musical prowess prevails over cheap jokes. With stunning time changes, smooth stylistic transitions, and earth-shattering sax work, care of Northwest wizard Skerik (Critters Buggin'), the Squirrels (featuring members of Dread Zeppelin and the Young Fresh Fellows) unveil interpretations as addictive as they are bizarre. "Money" pits the musicians in a dexterous tug-of-war between Floyd's melody and that of Barrett Strong's much-covered hit "Money (That's What I Want)," while "Us and Them" is reborn in a surprisingly engaging wash of funk and reggae. - Bill Snyder
('Sam Goody' house mag- May 2000)
"The Not So Bright Side Of The Moon"
Review by Jim DeRogatis
This brilliant through-the-looking-glass reimagining of Pink Floyd's classic rock favorite Dark Side Of The Moon was a labor of love, and it shows. Seattle's veteran self-described "Merry Musical Pranksters" (aided and abetted by two of the guys from Dread Zeppelin) must have spent countless hours in the studio to so carefully reconstruct those familiar Abbey Road atmospherics--sounds that have thrilled two or three generations of stereo salesmen, not to mention headphone audiophiles/ bong-slurpers. The Squirrels then turned around and took a sledgehammer to the whole thing, inserting a Spike Jones-worthy collection of alternate sound effects (in place of those familiar resonating clocks and slamming cash drawers are car alarms and a modem connecting to AOL), recontextualizing (Pink Floyd's "Money" is melded into Barrett Strong's, which works as an easy audio pun for sure, but also underscores the strong R&B grooves hidden under all that marijuana smoke), and just generally having a jolly good time. I hope they take on The Wall next, or maybe The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
SQUIRRELS- "The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
Review by Robert Silverstein
Many say Pink Floyd hit their zenith with their '73 album 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. Even today the album still inspires and case in point is The Squirrels' 1999 version of the Floyd classic. Definitely not a spoof, yet far from a zealous clone, the album finds The Squirrels having fun with 'Dark Side', even opting for a spoof album title. Spearheaded by producer Rob "Capt." Morgan, who croons his way through many of the lead vocal tracks, The Squirrels feature outstanding players like guitarists Jimmy "JT" Thomas, Kurt Bloch & Don Pawlak. Adding in some Zappa-inspired sound effects on many of the tracks, the Squirrels break new ground with their unique Floyd tribute. Disguised in outrageous cover art, 'The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon' should find a home with any fan of The Rutles & open minded Pink Floyd fans. www.poplust.com
(April 2000 issue)
"The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
Review by Jim DeRogatis (again!)
Much Like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Dark Side Of The Moon" has become so familiar through constant FM radio airplay that it has become difficult to hear the invention & sonic wizardry that made the record a favorite in the first place. Here, Seattle's self-described "Merry Musical Pranksters" (aided & abetted by members of Dread Zeppelin) warp & distort the Pink Floyd classic as if through a funhouse mirror, simultaneously providing both a brilliant parody & a touching homage. In place of the familiar chiming clocks & slamming cash register drawers, The Squirrels insert a Spike Jones-worthy collection of jokey sound effects (car alarms, a modem connecting online). They also put some of the tunes in a different context, merging Roger Water's "Money" with Barrett Strong's- an easy pun for sure, but it also underscores the R&B groove hidden behind Floyd's psychedelic wall. Floyd fans will devour this disc, while detractors will find something to laugh about as well. Only one question: Does this synch up with "The Wizard Of Oz" the same as the original does?
The Squirrels- "The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
Tearing down the sacred cow that is Pink Floyd are The Squirrels. These satirical footsoldiers include members of Dread Zeppelin (iconoclasts, fronted by an Elvis impersonator, who've made a career recordinbg reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs) along with various alumni of the Pacific Northwest scene including Skerik of Tuatara & Kurt Bloch of The Fastbacks. Sounding like The Mothers Of Invention fronted by "Weird Al" Yankovic with an assist from The Firesign Theatre, The Squirrels do a fine job skewering DARK SIDE OF THE MOON amidst a series of mishaps such as effects breaking down & participants calling out for missing back-up singers. The only straightforward thing about this MOON is the retention of the original album's track order. Otherwise The Squirrels tap into a myriad of musical genre's, including swing ("Breathe"), psychobilly-disco ("Brain Damage"), electro-funk ("Us & Them"), & Motown ("Money"). By the time The Squirrels close out with a whirling dervish/sideshow version of "Eclipse" that overflows with kazoos, they've effectively demistified this classic-rock touchstone.
"The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon"
by Chris Nickson
Let me start by saying I loathe Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. On my all-time most-hated list, it's in the top three, maybe number one. Psuedo-intellectualism passing for depth, production so smooth there's not a ripple, and an utter lack of imagination. The fact that it's remained so popular is a testament to the cretinous tastes of the masses. So for Seattle's Squirrels to do a Marx Brothers deconstruction of it is perfect. Every rotten tomato they throw is perfectly on target, from the extreme madness of the spoken word interludes to the mashing of Floyd's "Money" with Berry Gordy's old song of the same title (and let's not forget the inspired gobbing in the rhythm line). Joey Kline's gospel hollering on "The Great Gig In The Sky" is enough to get you spewing milk through your nose, and the inclusion of a bit of Zappa shows the true musical quality of the project. It works because the people who play- some great Seattle talent plus members of Dread Zeppelin- are so good, if not better than Floyd (OK, so that's not too difficult), and with a far less inflated sense of self. We need albums like this to remind us that music should be fun. We also need them because they're great. This is the business.
(# 319 Feb . 9 - 23, 2000)
by Ken Richardson
Breathe... breathe if you dare! Yes, friends, this ain't no Dark Side, this is "The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon", perpetrated by a bunch of wiseguys called The Squirrels. With singer Rob "Capt." Morgan at the helm, they've been playing on & off for 15 years, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. But their witty blend of cheese & chops has won these Squirrels some distant admirers. In fact, it was Fan Mael- a record label in the Netherlands run by folks who love the band Sparks- that commissioned the Captain & his mates to cover the entire Pink Floyd classic, now available here on PopLlama (www.poplust.com). Of course, they don't just cover, they meddle. Roger Water's "Money" morphs into Berry Gordy's "Money", & "Time" morphs into some funky reggae, mon. "Us & Them" becomes the bubbliest mantra you ever did chant. In "Brain Damage", the lunatic is in a hoedown (& then a disco). And- shucks, I don't want to give EVERYTHING away, except to add that the guest perpetrators here include none other than Ed & Tortelvis of Dread Zeppelin. And prepare to laugh yourself silly when "the girl" DOESN'T show up to wail through "The Great Gig In The Sky". And- my space is gone... review is over... someone send a disc to Syd!
SOUND & VISION
You guys are totally nuts!!
Rob, you Crazy Diamond, you've done it again!!!
This is insane!!!!
Aren't there freakin' laws about stuff like this?
Listen: "The Great Gig In The Sky" scared my cats!!!! OK?
Now, when can we expect your next album?
(Senior Curator, Experience Music Project)
"Okay, so you can drive for miles in this lifetime and see PLENTY of cows, it's true. But it takes a certain kind of personality to spot that one SACRED cow. It takes another to get the most mileage outta said bovine-of-mystery. The Squirrels seem to be both. This material in the hands of any--and I do mean ANY--other musical outfit might've come out sounding like ground chuck. But these Muddy Funsters have seen fit to sew one o' them Catwoman-cool kinda genuine rawhide bodystocking things like the 'Squiggle-Formerly-Known-As' would give his weight in Crisco for!
In 1973 Pink Floyd finally landed the big one, a cash cow called THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON: a stoner's delight that'd live for an unbelievable SEVEN-HUNDRED-FORTY-ONE WEEKS on the Billboard album charts! Exploring themes of overwrought suburban anxiety, insecurity, and the cold sterility of so-called 'modern life', the Floyd had scored a mental-movie soundtrack for scads of future arena-rockers and armchair philosophers alike. Maybe I'm way off base here, but I figure even Syd might've dug it. Hey, I'll admit it, I was among the faithful...which makes the Squirrels' THE NOT-SO-BRIGHT SIDE OF THE MOON that much more satisfying!
First off, the attention to detail is remarkable. Even down to the pickiest parody ("Package design by HipNeurosis" [DSOTM'sgraphics were by Hipgnosis]), they leave no stoner unturned.
Who better to play our beloved Lunatic-On-The-Grass than Mister B. Cheevers, the wasted cockney rebels portrayed by Dread Zepplin's own Tortelvis & Ed Z hisself, or vocalist Lesley Duncan channeled through Joey Kline AND Ella "Guru" Thomas?
Not spooky enough for ya? Try a taste of our delicious 'Squirrels Brand' Lounge/Country Blend on "Breathe", complete with the pedal steel stylings of 'Sneaky' Don Pawlak and a touch of Donovan's "Barabajagal" tossed in for kicks at the coda. Subliminal stuff, but then ..."I must've been drunk at the time"....
Not drunk enough to be prepared for my ALL-TIME-FAVORITE joke on the CD, though! I'm NOT gonna spoil it for ya, but you WILL have milk spurtin' outta yer nostrils when you hear ON THE RUN! And you just GOTTA give up the props to Mister Morrison for the perfect programming job on his tribute to Rickie Wright's VC3 raga. The internal combustion synthesizer has never sounded better. Trust me.
Muzzos, take note: the Musique Concrete machinations of Waters & Wright may well have shaken the Radio Programmers' collective tree in '73, but NOTHING will prepare you for Captain Rob's HARRY PARTCH approach to arranging the Sacred Sonic Collage introduction to TIME (just try not to piss off the neighbors, dude)!
All Hail young Hollis! TIME is driven further left afield by the sublime syncopation of them pots'n'pans- sorry, Mason fans, but with all due respect, Mister The Bug has Gnarly Gnickey all kindsa beat in that Polyrythmic Pudd Whackin' Department. Hey, shit or get out of the kitchen, y'know what I mean?
Note should be made of Mister Kevin Crosby's noble ability to act as HTB's faithful and talented blip-jockey regardless of the material he's asked to perform, or the fact that he's asked to perform said material in the long, lonely shadow of the once and mighty Mystery Bassist whom, while he slapped the Slippery Basso with vigorous aplomb, never found the fortitude to don The FUNKY HAT.
Oh, and then there's the obligatory guest artist guitar solo by none other than Kurt Bloch, whom I admire very much for his nimble Django-isms and uncanny Tigger-esque grace. But... GEE-ZUS-KEE-RICE-KRISPIES-SQUARE-TREATS what a solo!!
The Lumpy Gravy induced introspective dream state doesn't stop there, Pally-wallies! No, we're on this ear-goggle Water Weenie smoke-a-thon til we hit splashdown, and that's six songs from now!
Close out "Side A" with a J.T./T.M. Seventies 'bar-band faithful' cover of THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY and, in inemitable Squirrels fashion, bludgeon the audience with exactly the kind of pleasure device they bargained for: a duet with Joey and Baby Cheevers! Man, this really IS the crux of the proverbial biscuit, folks: the torture NEVER stops!
Parody? Tribute? You make the call, but I'm figurin' the tenderest cut of that sacred cow is gonna be served up hot'n'steamin' with a side of Jojos when we hit Pink Grail with the Leisure Suit '70's Anthem MONEY. Funny as hell, it's Y2k/Post Microsoft (and I'm not really sure how anyone could be proud of THAT--too small to SEE and FLACID to boot?) compatable. Echo Boomers, here's your theme song! Cool! It's almost as old as you guys!
SKERIK!! MORE Kee-Rice-Krispy, jaw-dropping attention to reverence and detail and sheer Morganmania! US AND THEM in the dank, cozy, dark, just a couple of rows up from Wee Paul at Pee Wee's Peepshow Playhouse. Mister Skerik wails away, punishing our fond memories of starlit saxophones and Ron Voyage seems content to croon while we hold our lighters aloft at the confoundebridge, shifting the scene from bump-n-grind Barry White to the Cooper-esque "OZ ON 45" deep-throat in a heartbeat (or was that a hiccough?).
What is your favorite colour? Pick ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE for a tasteful debunking of Floydian Folklore as Rock Boss Joey Kline picks-the-chicken (...sounds a AWFUL lot like a alligator) and Tom picks away at the remaining hallowed bones of prog-rock pretention.
With deft hearts and a wry grin, the band makes a final passionate play on BRAIN DAMAGE by creating...just that! A resurected ME & ROGER (THE COWBOY & THE KID) slaps hapdash headlong into the Seventies Time Tunnel repleat with mirrored balls and 'Mother, Jugs, & Speed'. Say hello to Roy Estrada in the middle eight and prepare yourself for the unthinkable reprise in ECLIPSE,a psycho-circus kazoo cabaret in waltz time with Rob as Joel Grey and a tip of he Hatlo Hat to Todd Rundgren for THE NIGHT THE CAROUSEL BURNT DOWN.
"Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon." Congratulations, Team Squirrel-- you successfully MOONED the lot of us, and we love you all the more for it!
Now, who wants to go out for a Pina Colada?"
(NW pop legend, Secret Squirrel, & sometime contributor
to Poplust Magazine. Look for Henry's album, due out later this year!)
are you as mad as I think I am I am?
(Herman's freakin' Hermits!!!)
GIG IN THE SKY
Squirrels Spoof Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
by Dave Liljengren
Seated beneath posters of Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, John Lennon and other '70s rock icons in a Wallingford attic apartment filled with CDs, computer equipment and vintage toys, Rob Morgan can barely contain his excitement for his latest project, a full-length tribute to/spoof of Pink Floyd's landmark 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon.
"I haven't talked to anyone who's heard our album who doesn't think we're sitting on something really big," Morgan says, getting up from his chair to prowl the room. "We've got something that'll hit from [ages] 6 to 60, because everybody knows that album."
Called The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon, the album was recorded by Morgan and his band, the Squirrels 2000, in 12 frenzied days at Egg Studios under the watchful eyes of veteran recording engineers Conrad Uno and Johnny Sangster. Uno became so impressed with the work that he decided to handle the U.S. release of the album through his own label, PopLlama Products.
"We were pretty focused in the studio," Morgan says. "I told Conrad what [sound] we wanted and he helped us get there."
The lead singer and driving force behind the Squirrels--a venerable Seattle comedy band--Morgan is also a charter member of Seattle's underground music scene. He started in 1979 as a member of the Fishsticks, a rough combo said to have thrown frozen seafood at their audiences.
It was in The Fishsticks that Morgan first worked with guitarist Eric Erickson, the individual with whom Morgan first hatched the idea of lampooning Dark Side. From The Fishsticks, Morgan would go on to sing in other bands, most notably The Pudz, a band whose single, "Take Me to Your (Leader)," had some popularity locally and was included on the 1981 Seattle Syndrome compilation. Erickson went on to play in The Frazz.
Morgan started the Squirrels in 1984 with a lineup that included such notables as Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, R.E.M.) and Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks, YFF). Erickson joined the group in 1985 and immediately, he and Morgan began dreaming of recording a comic take on Dark Side of the Moon. By 1987, Erickson had left the Squirrels, but remained in touch with Morgan until his death after a bout with leukemia in 1996.
In recent years, the Squirrels have limited their public performances to an annual Christmas show. Nonetheless, they are one of Seattle's longest-running bands. Seattle rock luminaries such as Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies, along with many others, have done stints in the Squirrels. Their energetic live shows feature Morgan's use of the band's mascot, Baby Cheevers, a Cabbage Patch Doll, as a comic prop, and the instrumentalists' ability to, as Morgan describes, "take off on an improv and march into nowhere."
Recently Morgan had been in touch with Fan Mael, a Dutch Label for whom the Squirrels recorded a song for a Sparks tribute. When he pitched his Dark Side of the Moon idea to the label, they quickly accepted and Morgan set about realizing the dream he and Erickson had discussed years before.
The Not-So-Bright Side of the Moon teases humor out of the stoner classic through the use of comic voices, abrupt tempo changes, unusual accents provided by Dread Zeppelin's Ed Zeppelin, and animal sounds. During "Money," Dark Side's best-known tune, the Squirrels outrageously weave other, contrasting tunes from the 1970s into the song. Morgan hoped to create the effect that "the '70s are duking it out in the guy's head in the course of the song."
Morgan is very pleased by the sound the band was able to achieve on the disc. "We thought Eric was driving it from above because it all came together fast and sounded great," he says.
The disc was released in Europe by Fan Mael on January 11 and will be released in mid-February in the States. The Squirrels- Morgan on vocals and kazoo, Jimmy "JT" Thomas on guitar, Tom Morrison on keyboards, Kevin Crosby on bass and Hollis the Bug, a.k.a. Voyager One's John Fleischman, on drums--will embark upon a brief, four-city tour of Europe in March to support the disc.
Despite the fact that the 37-year-old Morgan tends to favor music recorded before 1980, he was no Floyd fan. "I didn't even have a copy of Dark Side of the Moon; none of the Squirrels did. I had to borrow a copy to goof on it," he says. "However, we all came out of this with more respect for Dark Side of the Moon than we had before. It's a crafty little album."
(# 317 Jan. 12 - 26, 2000)
ORDER YOUR COPY!