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Oingo Boingo - Good For Your Soul CD (album) cover

GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL

Oingo Boingo

Crossover Prog


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Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This album, when it arrived in my record store in 1983, was where I first became aware of the insanity that was Oingo Boingo. From the opening notes of Who Do You Want To Be, as raucous a new wave song as I had heard at that point, I was hooked. There is a circus-like atmosphere to the album, and that's fitting, since the band sprang out of a circus troupe. The horns are crisp and precise, no matter how difficult Danny Elfman's compositions and Steve Bartek's arrangements might be. And speaking of Bartek, his manic guitar lines and solos often remind me of some of the off-the-wall avant guitar of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, or Snakefinger. The band hit it's first peak on this album, with Elfman's songs becoming more polished, yet still full of the darkness and paranoia that made the first two albums so much fun. He also was more overtly literate here, citing "The Island of Doctor Moreau" on No Spill Blood (which contains some outrageous samples in the rhythm track) and "1984" on Wake Up (It's 1984) (of course). While the album is not as overtly prog as the first two, the instrumental phrasing, and the odd combinations of chords, along with the ultra-high energy of the music make this one of the most exhilarating of musical experiences. To me, this is a five star album, and one I treasure greatly.
Report this review (#985670)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars OINGO BOINGO seemed to be on top of their game all throughout the new wave rich early 80s where they managed to stand out like a soar thumb with their unique herky jerky ska infused pop rock that implemented a fiery horn section and ample use of African rhythms and percussive drive. Their third album GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL found band leader Danny Elfman and the gang diversifying their style even further with not only the expected upbeat synthesized ska punk meets swing revival but added still more elements of ska and several tracks that offered a softer touch. Elfman began as somewhat of a Wazmo Nariz worshipper with his nasal induced high pitched vocal style with squeals but by album number three he found his comfort zone in not only the frenetic freak fueled lyrical delivery but also found new ways of scaling the octaves that implemented many different vocal phrasing techniques.

Despite a large lineup of eight musicians that covered guitar, bass, synthesizers, drums, keyboards, clarinet, alto and baritone sax, trumpet and trombone, the members remained the same and allowed the band to develop a chemistry that would take them to the next level and as phenomenally awesome as OINGO BOINGO's first two albums were, GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL is even better with each track standing out from the rest and the album flowing rather nicely without a weak moment. Likewise the lyrical content was much darker tackling everything from the supernatural on "Dead Or Alive" as well as inspiration from H.G. Wells' "The Island Of Dr. Moreau" in "No Spill Blood." Likewise the track "Wake Up (It's 1984)" finds Elfman lamenting the real year coming to a reality soon as he references the famous George Orwell novel.

For some reason, GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL tends to get overlooked in the band's discography in favor of albums such as "Only A Lad," "Nothing To Fear" or "Dead Man's Party," however this is one of the most diverse and therefore the most interesting of their entire canon with a frenzy fueled jaunt from one high energy zolo ska punk jazz track to the next with each track exhibiting a ridiculously high ear worm hook factor that guarantees and instantly addictive listening experience that begs for repeated spins again and again and again. Just listen to the opening track "Who Do You Want To Be" with its hot groovy bass line and jittery guitar performances as they back up by Elfman's idiosyncratic vocal charisma and the perfect horn section counterpoints that complement the bass and drum dynamics. It's just too good to be true!

As with all the early OINGO BOINGO albums, there's a strange charm in how the tracks are crafted with a steady galloping groove that adds subtle time signature changes here and there just to mess with you mind. The arrangements are simply divinely designed with the perfect marriage of funk, ska, jazz, rock and synthpop all shakin' their bad ass booties like a drunken stripper in the Red Light District. The tracks "Fill The Void" and "Nothing Bad Ever Happens" incorporate cool African percussion as well. Once again all the tracks were written by Danny Elfman who saw a huge growth spurt from the previous album but he cleverly retained all of the traits from the past and merely built upon and around them.

Two of the more unusual tracks for the band were the two closers "Pictures Of You" which found Elfman sort of crooning in a Gothic Cure sort of way with a female voice in harmony. It's more of a synthpop track sounding like the Human League and eschews the horns. "Little Guns" sounds a bit like a spaghetti western type of Wall Of Voodoo new wave track only with that bouncy sound from the "Only A Lad" album (tracks like "Nasty Habits.") only with a sizzling jazzy sax solo to give a little extra oomf. Yeah, OINGO BOINGO were on fire and no one else came close in sounding like the fusion pot that they had concocted at this point where they sound like a mix of Talking Heads, Wall Of Voodoo, Wazmo Nariz, Human League and Madness. As far as i'm concerned, GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL is their third new wave masterpiece in a row. This was the last album for A&M Records and the quality would diminish after this excellent work.

Report this review (#2077253)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
Kempokid
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Well, it was originally near unbelievable for me, but 'Oingo Boingo's' followup to what I considered to be a near perfect album 'Nothing To Fear' happened to be even greater in virtually every respect. The songs are each even more diverse and insane than before, with both composition and lyrics also improving greatly. From the very first track, it's obvious that the sound of the band has been further refined, being able to handle the insane, bouncy energy of their songs to an even greater extent.

To me, while the album doesn't have quite the same level of consistency between tracks, with a couple of weaker points, the high points completely stand over anything else the bamd has put out, with their opening track "Who Do You Want To Be" being one of the most entertaining, energetic songs I've heard, with the great harmonies adding a lot of punch to what is already feeling like some sort of deranged circus, in the vein of 'Mr. Bungle', albeit more commercial. The title track that comes directly after really shows off the dual nature of the band, being able to create strange, manic songs, while also having the capability to make some truly beautiful, catchy stuff, which is what I find this song to be, especially with the nearly ethereal nature of the synths. This sound quite similar to 'The Cure' is quite enjoyable and pulled off really well, all the way down to a similar sort of vocal style that Danny Elfman applies here The middle portion of the album isn't quite as strong as these first two tracks, but shows the band further spreading their creativity, with songs referring to works of literature, namely 'No Spill Blood' and 'Wake Up (It's 1984)', while others dabble in other genres of music, such as the wonderfully catchy reggae tinged 'Fill The Void'. While this middle portion doesn't quite stand up to the first tracks to me, I do still find the variety present here along with the generally skilled compositions to still be extremely good, with almost all the riffs working well, with the vocal melodies never dipping in quality. The final three tracks pick up a lot, matching the quality of the first 2, with 'Pictures of You' being my favourite song by the band. It has a very dark, mysterious atmosphere to it with some superb melodies, sounding straight out of one of Danny Elfman's soundtracks. Everything about the song just works perfectly, and it makes for a great song to have right near the end, calming down after the hyperactivity present beforehand. 'Little Guns' ends the album with a slightly creepy, bouncy beat with some really neat interplay between the trombone and percussion, making for some great energy that still maintains a level of restraint.

Overall, this is my favourite 'Oingo Boingo' album, as it takes everything about the band's already incredible sound, and improves it even more than what happened on the excellent 'Nothing To Fear'. There are few albums I like quite as much from the perspective of pure entertainment and enjoyability, with each song firmly staying in the camp of catchy music that isn't difficult to get into at all, while still showing excellent creativity and compositional skill. The way each song sets its own tone is also admirable. On the whole, this is definitely an album that I don't hesitate in the slightest to give maximum score.

Best songs: Who Do You Want To Be, Good For Your Soul, Pictures of You (especially worthwhile)

Weakest Songs: Wake Up (It's 1984)

Verdict: I highly recommend that people listen to this album, as it's deranged enough at points to appeal to those who like stranger music, while also just an incredibly enjoyable experience, fusing various styles throughout the album.

Report this review (#2132757)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2019 | Review Permalink

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