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Oingo Boingo biography
Founded in Los Angeles, USA in 1972 (as "The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo") - Disbanded in 1995

Way back in 1970, a young Danny ELFMAN joined his brother Richard's musical theater company, The Grand Magic Circus as a violinist. Danny performed with the show for a European summer tour, and then left for a year long trip across Africa. In 1972, Danny returned to the troupe, now known as The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo in the role of musical director. This group specialized in big band and jazz classics, as well as Danny's own percussion laden compositions. In 1976, Richard left the group, leaving Danny as lead singer and director.

By 1980, the younger ELFMAN brother had shortened the name to OINGO BOINGO, and had turned the band into a rock group. The group settled in with the eight man lineup Danny on lead vocals, Steve BARTEK on guitars, Richard GIBBS on keyboards, Kerry HATCH on bass, Johnny ?Vatos? HERNANDEZ on drums, and Leon SCHNIEDERMAN, Sam ?Sluggo? PHIPPS, and Dale TURNER on horns. The band was rewarded with a recording contract from A&M records, where they released their debut EP, as well as a number of well received albums. ELFMAN continued to write the majority of the songs for the group, with BARTEK providing a large portion of the arrange ments. The music was a unique blend of new wave, punk, big band, and various styles of rock. The theatrical and jazz background, as well as ELFMAN's love of composers like STRAVINSKY meant that the compositions were full of unusual rhythms, chord structures and time shifts.

ELFMAN and BARTEK shared an interest in movie soundtracks as well, leading to their work on countless movies and TV shows, as well as the band's appearances in movies, like Bachelor Party (with Tom HANKS, and Back To School with Rodney DANGERFIELD). One of their most famous hits, Weird Science came from the movie of the same name.

The band changed labels, to MCA in 1985, but for contractual reasons, their first album on the new label was released as So-Lo under Danny ELFMAN's name. During this phase, Mike BACICH and John AVILA took over on keyboards and bass, respectively. The band continued and ELFMAN and BARTEK's movie resumes increased, and albums like Dark At The End Of The Tunnel began to include the dark orchestral themes that permeated their soundtracks.

In 1991 the group re-emerged with Warren FITZGERALD as a second guitarist, and Marc MANN on keyboards, and the band's name no...
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Dead Man's Party [Deluxe LP Reissue][Colored Vinyl]Dead Man's Party [Deluxe LP Reissue][Colored Vinyl]
Geffen 2015
$24.75 (used)
Best O' BoingoBest O' Boingo
Geffen 1991
$3.80 (used)
Boingo Alive: Celebration of a Decade 1979-1988Boingo Alive: Celebration of a Decade 1979-1988
MCA 1990
$10.39 (used)
Only A LadOnly A Lad
A&M 1987
$6.31 (used)
Millennium Collection - 20th Century MastersMillennium Collection - 20th Century Masters
MCA 2002
$4.52 (used)
Only A Lad + Ain't This The LifeOnly A Lad + Ain't This The Life
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OINGO BOINGO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

OINGO BOINGO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.31 | 14 ratings
Only A Lad
4.34 | 14 ratings
Nothing To Fear
4.80 | 13 ratings
Good For Your Soul
4.90 | 2 ratings
Forbidden Zone (OST as Danny Elfman and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo)
3.07 | 9 ratings
Danny Elfman: So-Lo
3.18 | 12 ratings
Dead Man's Party
3.12 | 7 ratings
2.27 | 7 ratings
Dark At The End Of The Tunnel
4.70 | 11 ratings

OINGO BOINGO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.09 | 4 ratings
Boingo Alive
5.00 | 4 ratings

OINGO BOINGO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OINGO BOINGO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Skeletons In The Closet
5.00 | 2 ratings
Best O' Boingo

OINGO BOINGO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 5 ratings
Oingo Boingo


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Forbidden Zone (OST as Danny Elfman and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo) by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.90 | 2 ratings

Forbidden Zone (OST as Danny Elfman and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo)
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Off kilter movies that expand beyond the bizarre are the stuff cult classics are made of and the 1980 musical fantasy comedy film FORBIDDEN ZONE is perhaps one of the most out there of them all. The film was conceived by elder brother Richard Elfman in an attempt to convey the stage performances of his theatrical troupe THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO which revolves around an alternate universe or the sixth dimension that is accessible only through a door in the house of the Hercules family. Obviously an extraordinarily bizarre film needs an equally mondo bizarro soundtrack and that's where baby bro Danny Elfman came into the picture.

Once Danny agreed to conjure up the appropriate concoctions of sound for this convoluted "no budget" film, he was told that he needed to mix and meld a dozen or so differing styles with new sounds being constructed around more classic ones. Not only that, but the soundtrack had to be cranked out in a two week period completely around the clock so being young and ambitious and anxious to take the reins of the OINGO BOINGO artistic brand, Danny set forth to compose, arrange and record on a freak fueled marathon which resulted in one of the most bizarre soundtracks ever to have been recorded.

THE FORBIDDEN ZONE soundtrack is very much a transitional period between Richard's cabaret based theatrical troupe and the more new wave ska fueled early leanings of the OINGO BOINGO most of us have come to know. This soundtrack is what psychedelic dreams are made of and it is almost a certainty that some of the craziest and most experimental rock acts of the 90s such as Mr. Bungle and the indie pop freaks Ween surely had to spend some time getting to know this wickedly brilliant slice of insanity. My only question is, how has this remained so occulted from the OINGO BOINGO lexicon for so long? Another weird thing is that it was recorded for the 1980 film but wasn't released as a soundtrack until 1983.

An odd release in every way. The score was officially composed entirely by Danny Elfman but appears under THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF OINGO BOINGO moniker which consists of many of the musicians who would carry through to the early 80s albums such as "Only A Lad," "Nothing To Fear" and "Good For Your Soul." While some of the classic BOINGO style can be found here on tracks like the opening title track, "Queen's Revenge" and "Battle Of The Queens," the rest of the tracks and snippets will be utterly unrecognizable. However where they perform in classic fashion, it's a clue as to where they would end up in an albeit very stylized way with various vocalists in a musical format but that instantly recognizable ska guitar syncopation with that crazy horn section is smokin'.

THE FORBIDDEN ZONE is an extremely eclectic mix of sounds that range from Louis Armstrong based 30s jazz such as "Some Of These Days," "Yiddishe Charleston" and "Bim Bam Boom" along with short freaky synthesized instrumentals in the form of "Chamber Music," "Journey Through The Intestines" and "Factory." Other bouts of insanity come in the form of the outlandish "Witch's Egg" (love the lyrics on this one), "Squeezit The Moocher" and "Cell 63." The tracks meander all over the place but the one thing that binds them is the extremely wild and experimental approaches. Music rarely gets so anarchic but yet exudes some of the catchiest melodic hooks possible. Two 30s jazz tracks "Pico And Sepulveda" and "La Petite Tonkinoise" only appeared on the original LP and have been removed on future copies for copyright purposes.

This is some of the most brilliant music i've ever heard. I rarely come across something startling original especially by a band that i thought i had thoroughly explored to exhaustion. This bizarre little specimen of music only makes me want to track down the 1980 film that it was written to supplement. If it's only half of good as the music that is on the soundtrack then i'm a fan for life and cower in the shadow of sheer genius. Needless to say, this is one of the most entertaining soundtracks i've ever heard and this is without a doubt one of the most occulted masterpieces of all time. Did i mention Herve Villecahize of the 70s series Fantasy Island stars as the king of the sixth dimension in the film? Ha. Now you're interested :D

 Good For Your Soul by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.80 | 13 ratings

Good For Your Soul
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by 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.

 Nothing To Fear by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.34 | 14 ratings

Nothing To Fear
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars It didn't take long at all for Danny Elfman to reconfigure his brother Richard Elfman's musical theater troupe in the late 70s into one of the most unique sounding musical outfits to have been lumped into the new wave movement that was finding massive popularity in the early part of the 80s. Danny proved to be the perfect eccentric character to nurture the artistry into completely unthinkable extremes that took the zolo quirky charm of 70s bands like Devo and Split Enz and added an entire big band sounding horn section to give it that extra oomf. On the debut self-tiled EP and the full-length "Only A Lad," Elfman not only teased out the best possible combination of punk rock, pop hooks, ska, jazz and African rhythms but also proved to be quite the accomplished composer as an entire album of compositions complemented each other perfectly and offered a diverse wealth of moods and feels within the band's new musical paradigm. The band stood out like a sore thumb which got them noticed very quickly.

While the band was not experiencing the popularity of the new wave artists that were in heavy rotation on MTV, they were quite the hit in their native Los Angeles stomping grounds where they found heavy radio play and regular live gigs. Wasting no time, the band followed up their debut full-length "Only A Lad" the following year with NOTHING TO FEAR which found the overall sound being ratcheted up a few notches in the heaviness department. On this sophomore release there are more pronounced uses of the electric guitar that are both louder and more distorted along with more liberal styles such as the occasional soloing. While Elfman spent some time in Africa learning how to play percussive instruments before the start of OINGO BOINGO, the implementation of the musical rhythms only scratched the surface and on NOTHING TO FEAR he pulled out the big guns and offered a much more dynamic percussive backdrop that was in the spirit of David Byrne's Talking Heads albums only much more dynamic.

Once again the band remained an octet with Danny Elfman belting out his eccentric vocal style as well as contributing rhythm guitar. Steve Bartek returned only this time being allowed to explore different guitar playing avenues instead of the incessant ska syncopations. Continuing their jazz-rock style, the dynamic horn section was arranged to provide the perfect counterpoint for the fast tempos and high energy spastic pace of the quirky tracks that sported Elfman's equally quirky lyrical content with tracks exploring the concepts of everything from human neurology in "Grey Matter," the hidden in plain sight world of "Insects" as well as the more mundane human experiences such as "Whole Day Off" and the titillating concept of "Wild Sex (in the Working Class). Everything on NOTHING TO FEAR is a step up, musically speaking, from "Only A Lad." Elfman's vocals are more wild and varied than ever. The tracks are more polished with a better team of mixers and sound engineers as well as the tracks being tighter and more creatively constructed. Despite the musical theater troupe having long been retired, Elfman continued the showtime themed aspects with a full zeal and commitment that utilized every possible exploration offered by the band's unique idiosyncratic sound.

NOTHING TO FEAR simply sounds more exotic than anything else that fell into the umbrella term new wave. While it clearly did have new wave attributes such as the syncopated ska rhythms derived from a punk rock beginning as well as the synthesizer rich layerings that were used as liberally as by the Human League, Duran Duran or A Flock Of Seagulls, OINGO BOINGO went the extra mile to find new sounds to encapsulate their quirky circus moodswings. NOTHING TO FEAR was the first BOINGO album to show off the band's homemade instruments which included crazy things like rumba-phones and other unique noise making devices created by Leon Schneiderman. Possibly the most amazing thing of all is that every track sounds unique and stands out from the others making NOTHING TO FEAR one of the best albums that band released in their 17 year long career. Even the album cover art screams brilliance with that cleverly crafted creature encapsulated in the brown and green surrealistic art.

NOTHING TO FEAR is the point where OINGO BOINGO began to see a more national audience latching onto their sound as they would be the opening act for diverse bands such as the punk band Fear as well as highly popular ska rock band The Police. The track "WIld Sex (In The Working Class)" would also eventually find a place in John Hughes' film "Sixteen Candles." So, yeah their sound was rowdy and raw enough to capture the hearts of the punk crowds, synthesizer laden enough for the burgeoning new wavers and sophisticated enough to even capture the hearts of the more progressive oriented music world as they indulged in a unique amalgamation of exotic percussion, a three-piece horn section all wrapped up in unconventional scales, harmonies and musical presentation. And to top it off, they also implemented strange surreal artistic presentation both live and on their album covers. OINGO BOINGO was one of a kind and NOTHING TO FEAR has to be the absolute pinnacle of their early glory years where all the elements were perfectly balanced to create one of the ultimate classics of 80s new wave. Personally it's a toss up between this one and the debut. They both have strengths and weaknesses so i'll just call it a tie and declare this a brilliant masterpiece as well.

 Oingo Boingo by OINGO BOINGO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.05 | 5 ratings

Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars While the Mystic Knights of the OINGO BOINGO was formed all the way back in 1972 when Richard Elfman created a musical theater troupe that combined the zany antics of Spike Jones and Frank Zappa in an eclectic array of bizarre genre mashes, Richard would eventually grow tired of the whole thing and passed the baton off to his brother Danny Elfman who would restructure the whole thing into a musical project and drop the complexities of the the traveling show. Danny Elfman had spent some time in the latter part of the 70s in Africa and learned how to play a variety of instruments including African percussion instruments as well as violin. While the theater troupe was no more, Danny carried on a lot of the carnival themes with him and in no time scored a recording contract with I.R.S. Records as his zany zolo fueled musical mix perfectly fit in the burgeoning new wave movement of the era.

Before 'Only A Lad,' 'Nothing To Fear' and the rest of the famous albums that followed, the newly penned OINGO BOINGO released this mere little EP of four tracks that prognosticated an entire film and TV soundtrack career that Elfman would eventually find his biggest success in. While many EPs are mere artifacts that are rendered irrelevant due to the tracks having been recycled on future releases, such is not the case with OINGO BOINGO's eponymously titled first offering, a near 14 minute collection of tracks that never appeared anywhere else with the exception of the track 'Only A Lad' which would be the title track on the debut full-length, however that track was re-recorded so in effect this is also a track, in this version at least, that would never be released. The EP was only ever released on cassette and vinyl 10' and 12' with the two vinyl formats having a slight difference in track orders.

The OINGO BOINGO EP displays a fledgling new wave outfit with a circus musical feel meets ska in their early stages. Even at this point the band was already an octet with a full horn section that consisted of baritone, alto and soprano saxophones as well as trumpet and trombone. The jittery guitar riffs accented with Elfman's eccentric vocal style took a page right out of the Devo playbook but deemphasized the punk aspects and created more of a psycho-jazz rock sound that would greatly influence future acts like Mr. Bungle, Fishbone and even Nirvana. 'Only A Lad' is a more primitive version that would be more refined for the debut album. 'Violent Love' is Elfman's demented version of a blues song by Willie Dixon while the other two tracks 'Ain't This The Life' and 'I'm So Bad' are two Elfman originals that display his unique compositional style that allows the horn arrangements and guitar sections to have an interesting 'conversation' along with an extra healthy African inspired percussion section however at this point mostly played out on a single drum with some xylophones entering the scene from time to time.

This EP is pretty much a relic and an obscurity in the popular band's canon. It has never been rereleased on CD however i would bet that should the albums be remastered that they would surely find a home as bonus tracks on 'Only A Lad.' (i can hope!) While not available as a physical product since the first release, these tracks have been released digitally and easily found on YouTube for your listening pleasure. While compositionally these may not be quite as accomplished as those on 'Only A Lad,' they're still pretty damn good for the first release and well worth checking out. While i wouldn't slap the essential label on any of them, for the true OINGO BOINGO fan, they would be deemed at least hearing. While this EP was really nothing more than a demo that turned into an EP release, it has pretty much been all but forgotten as Elfman's success accrued over throughout the 80s. A nice little obscurity that probably should remain so but still worth the time of day to investigate.

3.5 rounded down

 Nothing To Fear by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.34 | 14 ratings

Nothing To Fear
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Some bands are just too diverse to be pigeonholed in certain scenes and musical trends. The 90s rock band Morphine, for instance, is considered an alternative rock act; however, their saxophone-based jazz fusion sound and an almost surf rock-ish vibe would suggest other influences that extend beyond their alternative label. Then you've got Alice in Chains, who bring sludge metal, doom metal, classic rock, and blues to their grunge repertoire to form a unique sound that pleases numerous audiences. Well, if any band were to join this list of artists who thought outside their scenes, it would be Oingo Boingo. Fronted by composer and vocalist/guitarist Danny Elfman, Oingo Boingo were frequently labeled as a new wave band for their fast punk-influenced rhythms and heavy use of synthesizers, as well as their generally quirky attitude. However, simply limiting them to this genre would be downplaying just how unique they were. Progressive rock website Prog Archives lists the band as "crossover prog," and labeling the group as progressive or experimental indeed seems more apt than just "new wave." The band combined classic punk, new wave, progressive rock, ska, jazz, alternative rock, and a multitude of other genres to create something way different from the pack, and this fact only makes it more understandable that Danny Elfman would continue to experiment heavily in his film scores.

Only a Lad, while making only small waves commercially when it came out, served well to lay the groundwork for what to expect from the band. Fast tempos, high energy, lots of horns, lots of synthesizers, eccentric singing from Elfman, and elements of jazz and classical music were all part of the Oingo Boingo experience; luckily, the album ended up finding an audience in the Southern California pop/rock scene. Nothing to Fear, the band's sophomore effort, pretty much expands upon Only a Lad stylistically without making really drastic changes. Then again, with how odd the band already were, they didn't exactly need to change too much. There is, however, more of an emphasis on guitar distortion and overall heaviness, which would please fans of the band's more punk-inspired work. Songs like "Insects" and the title track have some damn low and heavy guitar riffs that contrast the loud, bombastic horns very nicely. "Insects" in particular finds a fantastic balance between the two; a few times within the track, you have a low metallic riff from Elfman and lead guitarist Steve Bartek while the trumpeter and two saxophonists play a really nifty Middle-Eastern melody over the top of it. Stuff like that provides neat nuances to keep you frequently coming back to the album, and the horn playing in general is usually what adds those nuances when combined with the rhythm section and vocals.

Speaking of vocals, Danny Elfman gives perhaps his best overall vocal performance here. He suits every mood his compositions throw at him, from creepy to quirky to sad to gleeful. His eccentric performances give a ton of personality to the songwriting, like mixing slightly whispered and raspy mid-range vocals with low chants in opener "Grey Matter" or showing a bit more lightheartedness and restraint with the bizarre mid-tempo number "Whole Day Off." He's definitely a versatile performer, just as he's a versatile songwriter and composer. His writing on here is some of Boingo's most complex work yet, showcasing their penchant for odd time signatures and frequent musical mood swings. While I mentioned that the band's work features generally fast tempos, there are times in which the band tone down to represent moods other than complete bat[&*!#] insanity. "Private Life," while still on the faster side, is definitely more restrained and straightforward than much of the band's work; "Insects," meanwhile, touches on many bases in terms of speed. The main motif is heavily characterized by the lack of the snare drum... well, until the fast dance-like sections that occasionally (intentionally, I'm assuming) interrupt the general flow. This diversity is what makes the band so interesting to listen to; if you ever wanted to listen to a sort of precursor to Mr. Bungle, Oingo Boingo's music fits the bill very nicely.

In fact, in keeping with that Bungle comparison, you can consider Nothing to Fear the band's version of Mr. Bungle's masterpiece California. An increased sound palette, increased accessibility, and a heightened sense of cohesion makes the comparison pretty apt. Nothing to Fear takes the music of Only a Lad and makes it even better, retaining the eccentricity and overall oddness of Oingo Boingo's sound but slightly tightening and refining the musicianship and adding more subtle compositional nuances here and there. If there's one Oingo Boingo album you must own, this is probably it; I think Nothing to Fear could safely be dubbed the band's finest hour.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 Only A Lad by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.31 | 14 ratings

Only A Lad
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars After taking the reigns from his brother Richard Elfman who decided to move on from his musical vision, a young Danny Elfman steered the then named "The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo" (a fictional secret society on the TV series "Amos 'n' Andy") to a more new wave pop oriented rock band and thus shortening the name to the more famous OINGO BOINGO. After gaining significant attention with a demo that became their first EP, the band created a full-fledged album that emerged in 1981. ONLY A LAD is the final step in shifting the band's previous incarnation of a theatrical cabaret band into an 80s progressively minded new wave meets ska entity that even to this day sounds as good as the first time I heard this little sucka.

OINGO BOINGO simply put occupies a musical niche like no other. Danny Elfman's brilliance is on full display here signifying a major talent emerging into the world but unlike the more controlled efforts of future releases, this release shows an Elfman unrestrained and out to prove himself. That he does and quite well may I add. What we have here is an energy conducive with the circus cabaret scene married with a newly found ska fetish mixed with new wave. The songwriting on this debut album is spectacular combining all of the aforementioned with progressive soundtrack elements that really make this an exciting album. Dealing with dark and perversely themed topics that decorate the progressively composed time signatures and catchy melodies really adds up to an addictive sound. Danny tops it off with some extremely energetically wailed vocals that dominate the soundscape.

I really love every track on this debut album. OINGO BOINGO came from nowhere and although they may bring other new wavers like Devo to mind, the fact is OINGO BOINGO was much more sophisticated and elaborate in their sound and songwriting. They were an octet at this point and on top of the new wave beat, rhythms and instrumentation lies a formidable horn section. Some of my absolute favorite BOINGO tracks are on this debut release. I am googoo gaagaa over "Little Girls," "Perfect World," "On The Outside," the title track, "Controller," "Nasty Habits" and perhaps the best Kinks cover i've heard in "You Really Got Me" (Sorry Van Halen). A very strong debut with more Boingolisciousness to come on many future releases but this one remains one of my absolute faves. 4.5 rounded up

 Farewell by OINGO BOINGO album cover Live, 1996
5.00 | 4 ratings

Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars Just after releasing what was easily their best studio album, "Boingo", Danny Elfman decided to disband the group. I don't know if it was the success he has had creating film soundtracks, if he was just getting tired of this aspect of his music, or even if with that last masterpiece he found he had nothing more to say in the genre, but that was his decision. Instead of touring, the group played one final farewell concert, and of course, called the album "Farewell".

The album does have a few tracks from "Boingo", as it was the latest release, but the concert serves as a career retrospective of the band, with tracks from all of their albums except "So-Lo" and "Dark At The End Of The Tunnel" (two of their weaker albums, in my opinion). Five previously unreleased tracks (Burn Me Up,Water, Piggies, Helpless and Clowns Of Death) were also played as part of the set, probably just to get them out there, and all of them are welcome additions to the album.

The arrangements are harsher than on previous tours, with Warren Fitzgerald, an additional guitarist added to free up Steve Bartek from playing rhythms, adding to the mayhem. And everything was played as if this was their last concert, with the band just letting go and playing their brains out. This emotional performance gives even the oldest tunes an edge that they hadn't had previously, and makes this concert album an amazing event.

If any of the members of the band happen by to read this. Thank you. You have created some of my favorite listening experiences.

 Boingo by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.70 | 11 ratings

Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars I have been looking forward to writing this review for a long time, as this is one of my all time favorite albums.

After releasing their worst album, "Dark At The End Of The Tunnel", in 1990, Danny Elfman changed Oingo Boingo's direction (and keyboardist), added another guitarist (Warren Fitzgerald), matured the sound, and came up with a masterpiece.

From the opening chords of Insanity, which incorporates the moodiness and musical imagery that Elfman often uses in his film soundtracks, this disk offers an exciting, but often dark and frightening ride through the amusement park that was Oingo Boingo.

Elfman's lyric's have never been better than this, whether he is portraying a predator heading down the path of murderous madness in the above mentioned Insanity, a woman leaving her sheltered life in a small town, only to find that discovering the world makes her an alien back at home, in Mary, or just pointing out the inanity of military jargon in War Again. My favorite has to be the epic ending track, Change, a trippy psychedelic piece that a drummer I once played with would call "blow away material".

Despite using the famed Oingo Boingo horn section very sparingly, the music is quite powerful. Steve Bartek, who blends with newcomer Fitzgerald perfectly, unleashes some of his fiercest licks ever. And bassist John Avila, always a treat to see in live performances, is just plain astounding in this album.

The album does let up a bit occasionally, as if to let us catch our breath. Can't See (Useless) , which is actually a quite beautiful song, gives way to the ferocious Pedestrian Wolves, another high point on this album of high points. Spider, a relatively low key (for this album) song, leads into War Again and a hot version of I Am The Walrus, and end with Change.

I wonder if Elfman knew he achieved perfection with this album, as he dissolved the band shortly after this was released.

 Dark At The End Of The Tunnel by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.27 | 7 ratings

Dark At The End Of The Tunnel
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars I've heard people describe this album as one of the darker albums in the Oingo Boingo catalog. That this album demonstrates what Danny Elfman had learned from his movie soundtrack career. These people must not have listened to this album. The first two tracks show a bit of promise. When The Lights Go Out is a pleasant, but unrewarding track, like a lesser version of Elevator Man or Gratitude. Skin is a bit dark, with lyrics about peeling away one's skin. But musically, like most of Elfman's songs in those years, it is just not up to the standards he had set early on. Out Of Control is where the album veers completely off track. From the title, one would expect a rollicking explosion of energy, and wild lyrics. At best, this sounds like one of those dismal 80's teen pop wastes of time that might fill up space in one of those horrid Molly Ringwald films. The remainder of the album has Elfman running on cruise control, wasting our time and his band's talents with various styles of vapid pop. The only redeeming facet is a weird saxophone solo in Run Away. This really seemed to be the end of the road for this once amazing band. Who would expect that their next album, their final studio work, would outdo anything they had previously recorded?
 Boingo Alive by OINGO BOINGO album cover Live, 1988
4.09 | 4 ratings

Boingo Alive
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars While I guess technically this is a live album, it seems to live at the very edge of that definition. One thing you might notice when listening to this, there is no crowd noise whatsoever. And no stage patter. If you read the liner notes you will discover that the album was recorded in a rehearsal studio, not at a true live performance. Oh well. Despite the lack of an audience, the performances are amazingly good. The band is tight, the horns are crisp (I especially like the fact that Bruce Fowler, frequent trombonist for Frank Zappa, is a special guest on this recording). The songs represent Oingo Boingo's career up that point, from the debut EP up to "Boi-Ngo". While the latter three albums are not up to snuff compared to the earlier releases, the live performances are an upgrade. Guitarist Steve Bartek gets to shine, as he easily slides between rhythm licks and manic solos. And if you were one of the lucky ones to see this band live (as I was), you know that much of the percussive rhythms are played on the actual instruments, and not synths. It makes Grey Matter much more exciting when you can picture Danny Elfman and bassist John Avila wailing away on marimbas. It's no surprise that the best material is the songs from the early albums. But a few bones are thrown in, too. Cinderella Undercover had only previously been released as a B-side to a single. Goodbye Goodbye was only on the "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" soundtrack album, and, as far as I know, Winning Side and Mama had not been released before this. There is also a cool country western rendition of Sweat, and a couple of odd versions of Dead Man's Party thrown in as well. This is a great display of what this band could do on stage (even without an audience), and also an excellent album for OB's fans.
Thanks to evolver for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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