Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

OINGO BOINGO

Crossover Prog • United States


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Oingo Boingo picture
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...
read more

OINGO BOINGO forum topics / tours, shows & news


OINGO BOINGO forum topics Create a topic now
OINGO BOINGO tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "oingo boingo"
Post an entries now

OINGO BOINGO Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to OINGO BOINGO

Buy OINGO BOINGO Music


Best O' BoingoBest O' Boingo
Geffen 1991
$12.98
$2.37 (used)
Dead Man's PartyDead Man's Party
Geffen 1986
$12.86
$3.36 (used)
Boingo Alive: Celebration of a Decade 1979-1988Boingo Alive: Celebration of a Decade 1979-1988
MCA 1990
$3.55 (used)
Millennium Collection - 20th Century MastersMillennium Collection - 20th Century Masters
Remastered
MCA 2002
$9.89
$2.04 (used)
Nothing To FearNothing To Fear
Universal Special Products 2005
$7.96
$6.95 (used)
Only A LadOnly A Lad
A&M 1987
$12.32
$2.54 (used)
Dark at End of TunnelDark at End of Tunnel
Reissued
Mca Special Products 1998
$34.95
$2.98 (used)
Skeletons In The ClosetSkeletons In The Closet
A&M Records 1989
$17.92
$3.10 (used)
Farewell: Live from the Universal Amphitheater, Halloween 1995Farewell: Live from the Universal Amphitheater, Halloween 1995
A&M 1996
$6.52 (used)

More places to buy OINGO BOINGO music online Buy OINGO BOINGO & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

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)

4.24 | 19 ratings
Only A Lad
1981
4.45 | 20 ratings
Nothing To Fear
1982
4.82 | 22 ratings
Good For Your Soul
1983
4.87 | 4 ratings
Forbidden Zone (OST as Danny Elfman and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo)
1983
3.20 | 11 ratings
Danny Elfman: So-Lo
1984
3.26 | 14 ratings
Dead Man's Party
1985
3.25 | 9 ratings
Boi-ngo
1987
2.46 | 9 ratings
Dark At The End Of The Tunnel
1990
4.65 | 15 ratings
Boingo
1994

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

4.16 | 6 ratings
Boingo Alive
1988
5.00 | 6 ratings
Farewell
1996

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

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

5.00 | 4 ratings
Skeletons In The Closet
1989
5.00 | 4 ratings
Best O' Boingo
1991

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

3.15 | 8 ratings
Oingo Boingo
1980

OINGO BOINGO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Good For Your Soul by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.82 | 22 ratings

BUY
Good For Your Soul
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by 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.

 Nothing To Fear by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.45 | 20 ratings

BUY
Nothing To Fear
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars The second album by 'Oingo Boingo' improves upon their debut 'Only A Lad' in almost every way. There is more variety on it, no longer solely being a ska laden new wave album, now branching out to include more jazzy elements, along with a more varied tone. The songs no longer always have the same contrasting upbeat circus feel and dark lyrics, now including some dark sounding music at parts to complement it nicely. The compositions for the most part are far better as well, with not a single moment feeling like a dip in quality.

From the first song, 'Grey Matter' the band's growing maturity becomes quite apparent, being varied in instrumentation, including a marimba, yet still showing off their incredible strength of being downright catchy and enjoyable hooks and melodies. There are also songs with more prominence of the already wonderful horn and saxophone lines, with the title track being a shining example of this. This song is also one of the best on the album, being incredibly groovy, with smooth saxophone along with a more rock oriented approach, which is quite a nice change after the first half was quite exotic in terms of sound, making this a nice palette cleanser. Other highlights include the manically energetic and dance oriented 'Insects'. which is easily one of the more different songs on the album taking influence from disco or at least a similar kind of dance music. My favourite songs here however are definitely the more offbeat, dark ones, namely 'Why'd We Come' and 'Islands' which show off the strengths of Elfman's writing amazingly, with the intro to 'Why'd We Come' sounding a lot like something that could be found in Nightmare Before Christmas, and 'Islands' being rich in dark atmosphere.

Overall, this is a massive step forward in every respect, with more variety, better instrumentation, and more interesting compositions as well. The themes explored here are generally less overly satirical, but I also find a lot of them to be more enjoyable, balancing out dark themes of what's wrong with the world with songs about dancing on insects, making for a more balanced listen. I consider this to be one of the band's finest albums, and find myself returning to it on a regular basis.

Best songs: Grey Matter, Insects, Islands

Weakest songs: none

Verdict: This is the kind of album that I feel like could be enjoyed by a lot of people, given that it balances between accessibility and experimentation in such a way that it's extremely appealing, and I highly recommend more people to check this album out.

 Only A Lad by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.24 | 19 ratings

BUY
Only A Lad
Oingo Boingo Crossover Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars The process of coming to find this band was a pretty great one. Initially I had heard of them through apparently being quite an influence on 'Mr. Bungle', so I naturally went to check them out, only to become extremely excited once I realised that it was fronted by Danny Elfman. I then realised what a wild ride it would be from the moment I listened to 'Little Girls'. While this music is mostly simplistic and has little to do with prog for the most part, there are definitely some really great things about this album, especially the overall sound having a strong circusy feel to it that I can definitely relate to 'Mr. Bungle' and just Mike Patton's antics in general. The album is also very strong from a melodic standpoint, with each song being built around a couple of riffs and melodies only, but each of them being relentlessly catchy and fun. The final thing that I really love is the lyrical content, having a particular biting satire to many of the songs, along with having a similar sort of perversion or dark edge to their music that could be found in Patton's work.

'Little Girls' starts off the album in a really great way, being a way of instantly establishing the weirdness of the band, contrasting really fun, catchy synthpop melodies with some incredibly unsettling lyrics. This is definitely one of those songs that will worm its way into your head and pop up at the most inopportune times, but I still can't deny that it is really fun to listen to. 'Perfect System' is great as well, having a cool, bouncy bassline with some nice horn arrangements. The next couple of songs continue this pattern of being incredibly fun songs with groovy basslines and some really wild vocal delivery that jumps around a lot. 'You Really Got Me' is a really great 'Kinks' cover that easily beats out the wonderful 'Van Halen' version, along with the original version in my opinion. In general, 'Oingo Boingo' seems to have a knack for making covers, as can also be seen later down the line with the excellent cover of 'The Beatles'' 'I Am The Walrus'. I really love the heavily altered backing vocals especially. The title track is definitely one of my favourite songs on the album, with the first couple of times giving me a genuine chuckle in terms of how funny I found the lyrics. This is combined with it being by far my favourite song on the album from a melodic standpoint, along with being one of the most dynamic offerings, jumping between many different riffs and bridges, telling a whole story within the 4 minutes the song goes for, along with having a hook so catchy that it approaches being maddening. Past this point, the album goes back to being generally highly enjoyable, although at this point there is definitely the knowledge that the album sounds quite similar on the whole. The final song, 'Nasty Habits' is definitely another massive high point, with some more absurd, perverse lyrics, but also has a really great intensity and sense of urgency to it.

All in all, I really enjoy this album, it's catchy and fun, with a really great groove present throughout. While there are still signs of some immaturity and greenness in areas, particularly when talking about how similar some songs sound to one another, this is nonetheless a great debut.

Best Songs: Little Girls, Only A Lad, Nasty Habits

Weakest Songs: Controller

Verdict: Despite some cheesiness in terms of songwriting and instrumentation, particularly in synth heavy sections, this album is a lot of fun and really shows off Danny Elfman's compositional talent. I'd highly recommend giving it a listen.

 Forbidden Zone (OST as Danny Elfman and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo) by OINGO BOINGO album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.87 | 4 ratings

BUY
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
4.82 | 22 ratings

BUY
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
4.45 | 20 ratings

BUY
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
3.15 | 8 ratings

BUY
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
4.45 | 20 ratings

BUY
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
4.24 | 19 ratings

BUY
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 | 6 ratings

BUY
Farewell
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.

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives