In my experience, I run into two types of music listeners: those who pay more attention to the lyrics than the music, and those who pay more attention to the music than the lyrics. I belong to the latter group, myself, usually able to forgive a few weak words if the chord structures and dynamics of a song keep the song fresh. Listening to Señor Smoke made me realize that The Electric Six’s lyrics are nearly impossible to ignore. Within twenty seconds of the album opener, “Rock and Roll Evacuation,” you can’t help but look back at the stereo with a goofy look as you hear:
“Evil Boys eating evil hamburgers
Evil Boys eating evil fries”
I tested my theory on some friends who didn’t know anything about E6. I popped the CD in the boom box and watched their faces. I only wish I had thought to take pictures. Blackmail can come in handy now and then, and sadly, this was a missed opportunity to create it.
The Electric Six is a band with a sense of humor, and they want you to dance and party. Eleven of the fifteen songs on Señor Smoke are at least mid-tempo rockers with very danceable beats. “Dance Epidemic” is a standout cut that sounds like the unholy union of the Gap Band and Foreigner. If you are not moving your body to this song, you might want to check your pulse, and get in touch with George Romero because he might want to cast you as an extra in one of his upcoming films.
What follows, however, is the weakest track, “Future Boys.” It has a guitar intro that sounds as if it was written because the band needed another catchy opening guitar riff a la “Gay Bar”—basically the same song, just not as fun. Their cover of Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” is actually a little safer than I would have imagined it to be. It’s a fairly straight-ahead, tame version from a band that probably could have turned it upside-down if they had decided to.
The four songs that round out the album would feel right at home in the middle of any King Missile disc. “Jimmy Carter,” in particular, is a slower number with awkward lyrical imagery that ping-pongs from former Presidents dreaming of horses and nuclear war, to a random hotel assault, to the Backstreet Boys.
Señor Smoke is a record that was not created to be taken too seriously. It was created to be fun. And though it isn’t breaking any new ground or changing the way you perceive rock `n’ roll, as Amazon would have you believe, it is unlikely that one could listen to this album, particularly the lyrics, and not at least crack a smile.
Electric Six – Fire
Tenacious D – Tenacious D
Andrew W.K. I Get Wet