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OINGO BOINGO

Crossover Prog • United States


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Oingo Boingo biography
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 now shortened to BOINGO. Their final self-titled studio album was their darkest and most progressive, but also...
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Dead Man's PartyDead Man's Party
Geffen 1986
Audio CD$1.89
$1.08 (used)
Nothing To FearNothing To Fear
Universal Special Products 2005
Audio CD$1.91
$1.89 (used)
Best O' BoingoBest O' Boingo
Geffen 1991
Audio CD$7.98
$1.87 (used)
Only A LadOnly A Lad
A&M 1987
Audio CD$2.07
$1.22 (used)
AnthologyAnthology
Hip-O 1999
Audio CD$16.97
$10.59 (used)
Dark At The End Of The TunnelDark At The End Of The Tunnel
Mca Special Products 1998
Audio CD$3.68
$0.32 (used)
Skeletons In The ClosetSkeletons In The Closet
A&M Records 1989
Audio CD$1.92
$0.24 (used)
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OINGO BOINGO discography


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

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

4.30 | 9 ratings
Only A Lad
1981
4.03 | 4 ratings
Nothing To Fear
1982
4.69 | 7 ratings
Good For Your Soul
1983
2.91 | 4 ratings
So-Lo (released as Danny Elfman)
1984
3.03 | 6 ratings
Dead Man's party
1985
3.00 | 2 ratings
Boi-Ngo
1987
2.05 | 2 ratings
Dark At The End Of The Tunnel
1990
4.83 | 4 ratings
Boingo
1994

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Boingo Alive
1988
5.00 | 1 ratings
Farewell
1996

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Skeletons In The Closet
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Best O' Boingo
1991

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
Oingo Boingo
1980

OINGO BOINGO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nothing To Fear by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.03 | 4 ratings

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Nothing To Fear
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Necrotica

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)

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 Only A Lad by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.30 | 9 ratings

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Only A Lad
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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

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 Farewell by OINGO BOINGO album cover Live, 1996
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Farewell
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

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

— First review of this album —
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.

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 Boingo by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.83 | 4 ratings

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Boingo
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.

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 Dark At The End Of The Tunnel by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.05 | 2 ratings

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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?

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 Boingo Alive by OINGO BOINGO album cover Live, 1988
4.00 | 2 ratings

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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.

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 Boi-Ngo by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Boi-Ngo
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

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

3 stars Despite the previous album having crowd pleasers like Dead Man's party and the theme song from the movie and TV show Weird Science, I find this album to be a (very) slight improvement over that one. Home Again is an interesting piece, mostly because of the layered vocals in the chorus section. Tell Me Where My Friends Go is a cool, call and response piece with some funny lyrics, and Elevator Man is the obligatory toe tapper. The album, while nowhere near as good as Oingo Boingo's first three, manages to remain interesting enough, with the slightly eerie New Generation, the not quite outrageous enough Outrageous, and the nice closer, Pain. The prog quotient is not much better than the last album, but at least it keeps my interest, and makes a fine party disk.

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 Dead Man's party by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Dead Man's party
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

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

3 stars This album, the first on MCA released under the band's name (se "So-Lo" for the explanation for that), continues Oingo Boingo's journey away from the dark circus freak show style that made their A&M albums so wickedly enjoyable. Sure, Danny Elfman humorously touches upon the topic of death in Dead Man's Party and No One Lives Forever, but the rest of the tracks, lyrically, are forgettable. And musically, the prog elements are all but completely eliminated. What's left is slightly elevated pop. And although the horn section makes a greater appearance than they did on "So-Lo", with the exception of Weird Science, their parts are bland and nondescript. The low point is Fool's Paradise, which sounds like a remnant from David Bowie's dismal disco ("Let's Dance") period. The high points are the three songs mentioned above. While not progressive, they each provide a nice groove. And the pop music? It's listenable, but nothing special. I give this just barely three stars.

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 So-Lo (released as Danny Elfman) by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.91 | 4 ratings

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So-Lo (released as Danny Elfman)
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

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

3 stars Don't be put off by the cover. The album was released under Danny Elfman's name, and the title is "So-Lo", but with all of the members of Oingo Boingo (and no one else) performing, song written by Elfman and arranged by Steve Bartek, this is an Oingo Boingo album. In fact, it was recorded as an Oingo Boingo album, but a contractual dispute with A&M caused it to be released on MCA under Elfman's name. Unfortunately, this also began the decline in Oingo Boingo's sound. The horns, a standout feature on the first three OB albums, barely make an appearance. And on the two songs where they can be heard, It Only Makes Me Laugh and Tough As Nails, they are low key and non- distinguished. Elfman's songs are good, but it's beginning to sound like he's on cruise control. And while there is a bit of darkness in his lyrics, it's far more tame than on the previous albums. Judging by the later MCA releases, I've always wondered if this trend was more of a edict by the new label than a trend from Elfman himself. Oh well. This isn't a bad album. It's got some nice, and even a few somewhat exciting tracks. But it was a disappointment.

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 Dead Man's party by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Dead Man's party
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by VOTOMS

3 stars At 1985, Oingo Boingo moves to the MCA records and quickly becomes a pop-oriented band between ska and post-punk with their fourth release, Dead Man's Party. The album tracks was already used as soundtracks for a hundred movies and TV series: Back to School, Weird Science (the song of the same name was written specially for the film), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Casper, Chuck, the Brazilian telenovel Top Model, and more.

The album is good, but it have some weak tracks. I must admit that my favorites here are their best-known songs, Stay and Weird Science. By the way, this release has nothing to do with prog, and it's not as good as their early albums.

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Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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