Mike McLatchey 16-September-2002 Fancy

Idiot Flesh were a SF bay area ensemble and the immediate precursor to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the current outfit of members Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdhal. Having been around since the late 80s and releasing their first album in 1990, it's a bit of a surprise that Fancy is only Idiot Flesh's third album, acting as their swansong in 1997. Like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Idiot Flesh's greatest strengths were their live shows, musical cabarets that were part performance art and part RIO- and punk- influenced art rock. While such elements were either lost or obscure on Fancy's predecessor, The Nothing Show, the band had definitely gelled by this point, creating a collection of songs and experiments that generally succceed greatly. Some highlights include the Residents-influenced pop ditty "Teen Devil Worshipper," the bizarre, convoluted and exceedingly progressive "Chicken Little," and the albums' precursor to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's "1997," the insane "Mother Fucker." Along with such bizarre songs were also a few snippets that would probably come across more effectively in a live setting such as "Cheesus," a parody of both commercialism and religion in one, and the finale "People in your Neighborhood," a rendition that would likely make metal band Macabre proud. Instrumentally, at least when the band decides to break out and rock which is not often enough, Idiot Flesh generally perform some pretty convoluted charts, almost like Henry Cow or Thinking Plague but informed by Frank Zappa's sense of humor. These are elements that have carried across to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum as well, although Idiot Flesh were generally even more off the wall. Certainly this is one of the better bay area art rock albums and arguably the band's best; highly worth checking out for fans of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the Residents or other RIO- and humor-informed experimentalists.

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