Click to hear: “Telephone Man”
Editor’s note: It’s nigh impossible for The Bollard to objectively review the new Eggbot album, Phalling 4 U.
Eggbot the person, the singing half of the eponymous drum-and-organ duo, is a contributor to our Food & Booze section. Bollard Art Director Mich Ouellette, a.k.a. The Fuge, designed the album art and hosted the contest at whichPhalling 4 U was recorded – the Battle of the Bands late last winter at Free Street Taverna (R.I.P.). Ouellette’s introduction of the band and his announcement of their victory in that night’s round of the contest bracket the ten-and-a-half songs on this live release. Sean Wilkinson, a.k.a. Country Rhodes, also an art director for this publication, co-hosted the contest with Ouellette and performed the drum roll at the end.
Furthermore, the author of this piece, Bollard editor and publisher Chris Busby, was a judge that night, and as such did not pay for the beer he drank, which was likely a considerable amount. Busby has also claimed on several occasions to be Eggbot’s manager, though in fact he is not, having never done anything tangible to advance the band’s career, and also having once, as part of this fiction, nearly ruined an interview the singular Eggbot had with a writer fromIt Magazine (R.I.P.).
That said, Eggbot did not go on to win the contest (congratulations, Confusatron), and to this day the band continues to toil in near utter obscurity, playing low-to-non-paying gigs about once a month attended by a cultish following of a dozen or so fans, about a quarter of whom, again, receive some financial compensation through their association with this publication.
The Bollard recognizes that readers these days have valid reasons to question the fairness and integrity of journalists, especially music journalists, who as a class of writers have precious little integrity to spare. So in keeping with our commitment to objective arts and music coverage, words and phrases that could be interpreted as puffery, free advertising, or payback for personal favors bestowed on the author (like Eggbot’s delicious home-smoked sausages, available for purchase at some shows), are italicized in this review for your protection.
Even though I’m not Eggbot’s manager, I wholeheartedly recommend you purchase this new live album. It is excellent in every respect, a perfect encapsulation of the live Eggbot experience captured by modern recording equipment and transferred to compact disc for home enjoyment.
Phalling 4 U has it all: the virtuostic musicianship, the hilarious jokes, the grubbing for beer. There’s even the now seemingly obligatory equipment failure that scuttles a great new tune, “Blackmail Luv Song,” halfway through. A full version is expected to appear on Eggbot’s forthcoming studio album, which, based on the rough mixes I’ve heard so far, will change the course of modern music as we know it.
Not that Eggbot, the singular, has any interest in modern music as we know it. His musical world more or less ended with the dawn of the 1970s. By then, according to the introduction to this recording, he was over 900 years old, having been “jettisoned from an extraterrestrial ovum” in the year 1032. In his “quest for universal musical knowledge,” Eggbot had already “created sounds that influenced Stravinsky, Gershwin, Coltrane and the Monkees.”
Some time afterward, drummer Shish KaBob, a.k.a. Tristan Gallagher, came along playing in a style that mixes Moonian (as in Keith, not the Earth’s satellite) fills with punk-rock pounding. Combined with Eggbot’s Farfisa and effects, it’s something to behold.
Much like a carnival to behold, actually, when you’re on acid and wandering lost around the midway with cotton candy in your hair.
Take the first tune on Phalling, “Annie’s on the Roof,” which appeared on 2003’sAutorock album (also a live recording, albeit in a radio station’s studio) and has been a live favorite for years. Gallagher, a.k.a. KaBob, a.k.a. Aquaman and any number of other names Eggbot calls him on this record, nails this breakneckclassic, which Eggbot explains is a song about a 10-year-old girl whose father’s “gone berserk.” (Lyrically, anything’s possible in Eggbot oeuvre. Take “Little Jelly Lobster Claw,” also on Phalling, a number about a boy who thinks that if his arm gets ripped off, the titular object will grow in its place. The lyrics seem to suggest that this happens.)
“Yuck Foo” is another “rocker,” as Eggbot refers to the uptempo material. He makes a point of saying this Spoonerism isn’t directed at Battle of the Bands organizer Keith Mann, but as with the jelly claw thing, don’t believe everything you hear from Eggbot.
“Natalie,” a new song about Facts of Life star Mindy Cohn, is gorgeous [look, no italics; it’s true!]. Eggbot weaves his variously pitched voices together with the song’s lovely melodies to stirring effect.
The version of “Old Hobo Death Camp” heard here — originally from 2001’sThere’s No Denying the Existence of Eggbot, and also a live staple – is top-notch. This is the free-jazz freak-out portion of the show, when Eggbot blows cosmic wind through a cornet (a small trumpet) while keeping the groove going on the organ. The trippy “Flying Spoon” explores similar galactic territory, sans the jazz trappings.
By the end of this half-hour set, things have gotten quite unexpected. There’s Eggbot’s sped-up version of a Jerry Lee Lewis [corrected!] song, “Great Balls of Fire on 78,” and a cover of Climax’s lone soft rock hit from the early ’70s, “Precious & Few.” Eggbot plays this last one pretty straight – as straight as any Eggbot cover can be – and it makes a nice ending to what was a fun night in a bar that will most likely never host an act like Eggbot again.
Did I mention that you should buy this album immediately? Not that any proceeds go to me. Like I said, I’m not Eggbot’s manager. I’m just a friend and a fan.
But frankly, even if I didn’t know Eggbot, this astounding psychedelic pop-rock album would still kick ass. You can find it at your local Bull Moose Music store. It’s cheap.
— Chris Busby