The list of stand-up comedians who tried their hand at becoming musicians is long -- Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and Bill Cosby, for starters. The list in the other direction -- musicians becoming stand-up comedians -- is much shorter, if it exists at all. There is, after all, a fine line between stupid and clever.
John Boydston, who will release his fifth Daddy-A-Go-Go album, Eat Every Bean and Pea on Your Plate on May 2, 2006, may not be appearing at the Improv next week, but he does have stand-up tendencies. Ad libs, puns, humorous vignettes -- all make an appearance on the album.
Boydston's singing approach is somewhere on the tunefulness spectrum between Lou Reed and Craig Finn from The Hold Steady, in which he talks as much as sings. I didn't mind so much, because the it's not too out of sync with the music itself, which is straight-ahead, well-played guitar rock. (Your mileage on his vocal stylings may vary.) Perhaps "For Those About to Walk, We Salute You" doesn't sound quite enough like AC/DC to merit its title, but it's a fun little ditty that encourages walking without any sappiness. "Eat Every Bean and Pea on Your Plate," is a bluesy rocker that isn't much more than a listing of vegetables with ad-libbed jokes ("Okra! I love her show!") liberally sprinkled throughout.
The best tracks are those in which the humor is curbed a bit -- the aforementioned songs, the reworked cover of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" (on which Boydston's 14- and 11-year-old sons play bass and drums), the two instrumentals. Less successful for me were "Hang Up and Drive," in which frustrations with drivers who talk on their cellphone will completely go over most kids' heads, and "Pink Floyd Saves Hugh Manatee," in which the guest singer sounds just like Boydston and the song sounds nothing like Pink Floyd. And I found the earnest cover of "Listen To The Flower People" from the classic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap to be completely unnecessary, but maybe that's because I've got 20 years of associations with that song. Your child probably won't recognize the "Stonehenge" references you make afterwards, but that's your (or at least my) problem.
The album is probably best for kids age 5 through 10. You can hear samples and read lyrics (without Boydston's many ad libs) here. The album is available at the Daddy A Go Go website and at online retailers, and possibly at some retail locations.
In sum, maybe the best way to determine whether or not you'd like the album is for you to decide whether you like Jimmy Buffett. Don't misunderstand me, the album doesn't sound anything like Buffett, but it does have a very Buffett-like vibe. If you think Buffett is a joke and can't stand any of his songs, you won't like this. But if you understand where Buffett is coming from and don't mind the occasional Buffett song or album, you and your kids will enjoy listening to this.