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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cut your teeth
I remember the first time I was forced to listen to this album - a friend of a friend brought it over to my place one night and forced me to listen to it. After the disc ended I threw him out of my pad and told him that he had no idea what good music was supposed to sound like. He left so quickly in tears that he left the disc in my stereo. The next day while I was doing...
Published on October 5, 2001 by antiphilosopher

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Precursor of what was to come..
They Might Be Giants have been known for their zany quirkiness and addicting melodies, but no other TMBG offering is quite as zany or quirky as their first entry into the world of albums. With nothing more then the band members (John, and, well, John) a drum machine, and some keyboards and guitars, the Johns went out to produce some true classics (The fluid and self...
Published on June 24, 2001 by Crow Winters


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cut your teeth, October 5, 2001
By 
"antiphilosopher" (Cincinnati, OH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
I remember the first time I was forced to listen to this album - a friend of a friend brought it over to my place one night and forced me to listen to it. After the disc ended I threw him out of my pad and told him that he had no idea what good music was supposed to sound like. He left so quickly in tears that he left the disc in my stereo. The next day while I was doing dishes, a tune popped into my head AND WOULN'T GO AWAY. I ransacked my apartment for the cd that this maddeningly oddball riff had come from, but I had no luck. Finally, after hours of frustration, I just hit random play on my changer and there it was. "32 Footsteps." I was amazed. Listened to the album over and over again, and TMBG's first album sank its mischevious little hooks into my soul. Bouncy, catchy, upbeat psychosis in musical form! Oh, the joy! My friend never got the CD back, and to this day TMBG remains one of the most beloved bands in this punk's musical arsenal.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet John Flansburgh, lovable crackpot..., January 10, 2003
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This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
Funny and fresh, ebullient and eccentric, bubbly and bursting with ideas (though perhaps too restless to dwell on them for very long), Flansy's personality is all over this disc. The bespectacled, guitar-playing half of They Might Be Giants sounds (and looks!) like a cross between Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw, but his contributions to this 1986 debut are stylistically all-over-the-map, and he reveals himself to be a surprisingly versatile vocalist. The self-deprecating "Number Three" ("There's only two songs in me, and I just wrote the third!") is ersatz country; the tough-but-funny "Alienation's for the Rich" ("...and I'm feeling poorer every day") is bluesy country-rock. "Chess Piece Face" is hilariously fey art-rock, and "She Was a Hotel Detective" is stomping glam-rock. "Absolutely Bill's Mood" is a pulsing, pounding ode to insanity (dig that Dylanesque title); "Hide Away Folk Family" is sweet pop balladry with truly disturbing lyrics (about a family whose house is about to be torched). "Rabid Child" (about a kid hooked on CB radio) and the surreal "Youth Culture Killed My Dog" ("Bacharach and David used to write his favorite songs ... But the hiphop and the white funk just blew away my puppy's mind") are pure, upbeat pop. The best of the lot is "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head," with its infectious New Wave bounce and clever, thoughtful lyrics ("As your body floats down 3rd St. with the burn-smell factory closing up, yes it's sad to say you will romanticize all the things you've known before / It was not-not-not so great ... and as you take a bath in that beaten path, there's a pounding at the door;" "Ads up in the subway are the work of someone trying to please their boss / And though the guy's a pig we all know what he wants is just to please somebody else").
That's not to say that John Linnell, the boyishly handsome, accordian-playing half of TMBG, doesn't have his moments. On the exuberant opener "Everything Right is Wrong Again," the furious closer "Rhythm Section Want Ad," the brassy "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes," the gorgeous "She's an Angel," and the classic "Don't Let's Start" ("No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful / Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful!"), he offers hints of things to come on albums like Lincoln (1988) and John Henry (1994). (I must also mention "Hope That I Get Old Before I Die," his polka-flavored duet with Flansy featuring the line, "I think about the dirt that I'll be wearing for a shirt.")
Plus, I'm pleased to report that the filler quotient is rather low on this 19-track album; "Boat of Car" (featuring Margaret Seiler on lead vocals and, inexplicably, a sample of Johnny Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass"), Flansburgh's "Toddler Hiway," and Linnell's "32 Footsteps" are amusing at first but don't hold up to repeated listens. And the Flansy-Linnell duet "The Day" is notable only for its opening line, "The day Marvin Gaye and Phil Ochs got married" -- how could the rest of the song possibly live up to that, anyway?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by a Music Fan, December 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
I lost a few of my other TMBG albums in a fire, and a few other have been loaned out to friends permanently. Luckily, I still have their self-titled album, which is one of my favorites of all time. It's also a good place to start listening to John and John, surpassed only by Flood, the most friendly of all TMBG efforts. Severe Tire Damage, which is a live-ish showcase of their talents, would also be a good first buy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A musical smorgasbord. . ., August 14, 2000
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
They Might be Giants go on a tour of musical genres on their first album, tying things together with their clean harmony and sharp lyrics. There's a country song, a couple of straight-out rockers, some new wave, and some uncharted territory (a sample of Johnny Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass" turns into a song about a car that's also a boat). Some of it makes sense, a lot of it makes no sense, but there's energy and intelligence to spare.
These songs were recorded with just two guys and a drum machine, one of its strengths is that its simplicity is never obvious. John and John know their way around a recording studio, and throw in some curveballs to keep your attention -- including the first phoned-in guitar solo I've heard, and some backward masking that isn't backwards.
If you're new to the band, Flood is a better jumping on point because it's not quite as strange. If you're a fan already, you must own this CD.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hammer down! rabbit ears!, April 18, 2004
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
If They Might Be Giants ever had a creative peak, this album (their first) is arguably it. Nineteen songs, and not a second wasted -- the drum machine is used to great new wave-style effect ("I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die" and "Rhythm Section Want Ad" are two good examples), and the melodies are always consistant. Linnell and Flansburgh also use their voices in various, goofy ways -- listen to the way Linnell sounds on "32 Footsteps." It's both weird and absolutely hilarious at the same time.
The heartbreaking "She's an Angel" has both wonderful, naive-like lyrics ("I heard they had a space program/When they sing you can't hear, there's no air/Sometimes I think I kind of like that and/Other times I think I'm already there") and absolutely amazing instrumentation.
Other stand-outs: "Don't Let's Start," "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head," "Hide Away Folk Family," "Rabid Child," "Youth Culture Killed My Dog" -- wait a second, here... all of them! Every single track is great! I'm completely serious; you'll be astonished at how substantially great this record is.
TMBG would never have this amount of crazy energy again, but that in no way means they got worse or anything. "Lincoln" and "Flood" are two other great albums as well. But their self-titled (or the Pink Album) will forever be my personal favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their Best, June 30, 2005
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
I loved this CD from the first time I heard it. "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head" is the most invigorating song ever written and I just love how funny they can make utterly profound lyrics. They do it all over this CD. "Alienation's For The Rich", "Song Number 3", "I Hope I Die Before I Get Old", are all great examples of hilarious songs that are profound and even the short songs are genius. Everything fits together and there is not a single lull. They Might Be Giants continues to display their wit and musical brilliance, but it all came together here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where the worship starts, March 15, 2005
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
It's plain old fun here, but a bit on the arcane side. This album doesn't fit together in the sense that each song flows stylistically to the next. No, each song is a self-contained wacky example of humor. The whole thing is like a quietly clever joke being told with the most direct energy and irony. It's also obviously from the 80's with the drum machine playing a big factor in this stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first CD i ever bought, March 12, 2002
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
I haven't listened to this album in a while, and listening to it now I'm taken back by how crazy this music truly is. Songs like "Everything Right Is Wrong Again," "Rhythm Section Want Ad," and "Don't Let's Start" in particular, are so fast and ADDing that they sound like they're about to spin right off of the CD! Some of Flansburgh's guitar noodling on "Don't Let's Start" is absolutely nuts. I imagine the only way you could possibly dance to this music is if you completely spazzed out. Back in the day, They Might Be Giants were into making New Wave askew. The drum machine is there, the tinny guitar is there, but then there's the almost illogical lyrics, the flirting with other styles and the accordion.
"Hide Away Folk Family" presents itself as a totally friendly song, initially giving you the image of the Swiss Family Robinson, but quickly things go awry and some strangers show up to set fire to their house. No joke. This is what happens. Crazed song topics are the norm for TMBG. For example, "32 Footsteps" is about a man who's been obsessed with the number 32 since his girl left him. The music sounds equally paranoid. "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes" is a few verses of random free association until John Linnell brings some stability to the song in the chorus by singing about how he'll never change his clothes again.
One of the album's top songs is the rocker "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" about a woman who, well, taps the phone and figures out all the mysteries in the hotel! There's Johnny Cash's voice sampled on the nonsensical "Boat of Car," a nonstop succession of sound effects in "Hope That I Get Old Before I Die" and countless other avant-garde tricks to play on your ears. So for all of its creativity, wacky but sometimes poignant lyrics and off the wall fun level (you know they had fun making this) this is a great album, often overlooked even by TMBG fans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful piece of rock surrealism., February 8, 2001
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
If rock'n'roll had existed in 1920s France, one could see Erik Satie and Andre Breton teaming up to produce something like the eponymous debut album of They Might Be Giants. Except that it wouldn't have been half as much fun as this bubbly, charming, hook-filled and almost completely inpenetrable CD. If anybody can explain the significance of "Chess Piece Face" or "Boat of Car," I'm not sure I'd like to hear from them, because an explanation might well kill their daffy charm. (Performers like Beck obviously owe a lot to They Might Be Giants.) The whole CD flows from one loopy triumph to another, but for me the high point is "Don't Let's Start." Not only is its tune supremely danceable, but it contains my favorite lyrics of any rock song: "No one in the world ever gets what they want/And that is beautiful;/Everybody dies frustrated and sad/And that is beautiful."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This CD is an experience within itself.., July 8, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: They Might Be Giants (Audio CD)
I own this CD and listen to it on a regular basis. It's so bizarre and most of it doesn't make any sense at all. That's what I love about it. I also own Flood, John Henry and Factory Showroom; but this is by far the best album. The effect that the drum machine gives is hilarious, and who doesn't like a band that consists of two dorks making weird music? Hahaha... I'd reccomend this CD to anyone.
Erin (erinzilla@hotmail.com)
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