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Obligatory Villagers [Explicit] Explicit Lyrics

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Explicit Lyrics, November 1, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Nellie McKay returns with Obligatory Villagers, a 9-song odyssey and follow-up to Pretty little head, one of the best-reviewed records of 2006. Like its predecessor, Villagers produced, arranged, written and performed by Nellie, this time featuring an ensemble of jazz greats, including Phil Woods, Dave Liebman and Bob Dorough. An early review from Pitchfork testifies, from the cheeky ukulele-and-tap-shoes dance break! in the middle of album opener Mother of Pearl to the chorus of brain-hungry zombies on a finale titled, yes, Zombie , Villagers finds Nellie and her collaborators at their most lively and rambunctious.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Mother of Pearl
  2. Oversure
  3. Gin Rummy
  4. Livin
  5. Identity Theft
  6. Galleon
  7. Politan
  8. Testify
  9. Zombie


Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 1, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Explicit Lyrics
  • Label: Hungry Mouse Records
  • ASIN: B000UDUN2W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,677 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anne R. Eason on November 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
What a short and sweet album! I think to truly appreciate it you have to think of it as two songs--Mother of Pearl and Zombie--which serve as bookends for one of the most thrilling suites of musical inventiveness since, well, I'm not sure when. Comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody don't do Nellie justice.
The suite kicks off with McKay's shout out to newsworthy dog owner Maxine Shreck and ends with the gospel rave up Testify. In between the listener is treated to everything from sea chanties (Livin) to Latin ballads (Politan) to hip-hop pop (Identity Theft). Just in the space of one song (Testify) she goes from Mancini-style spy music to anthemic rap to SNL-horn ensemble jazz to raise-the-roof soul.
The album is incredibly well-served by McKay's choice of backing musicians, including Bob Dorough whose scratchy vocals provide a perfect counterpoint to young Ms. Nellie on Oversure and Galleon.
Give this album a couple of spins and the nifty arrangements and hook-laden melodies will stick in your head for weeks. Lyrically, McKay manages to take episodes from her own life and turn them into poetic vignettes. Like Steely Dan lyrics, they are vague enough to keep you guessing yet include enough concrete imagery to point you in the right direction.
One of the best albums of 2007!
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Format: Audio CD
I had never heard of Nellie McKay until just a couple weeks ago, when I caught a bit of her music (and interview) on NPR while driving home. The music impressed me so much I turned the car around and headed to our local Barnes and Noble. NPR often features really off-beat music, so I was pleasantly surprised to find "Obligatory Villagers" in stock.

I popped it into my car's CD player on the way home, and it has been there ever since. I am totally hooked! I have been buying records (showing my age here) for about 35 years, and have just a few favorite albums that never seem to get old. This one instantly entered my top 10 albums of all time...which is pretty amazing, considering those personal favorites go back to the 1970s!

How to describe this music? A lot of it I would class as jazz...or close to jazz...with sharp, often funny lyrics. About the best comparison I can think of would be a hybrid of Nora Jones (sound) with the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (lyrics). But even that is doing Nellie a dis-service, because her music is totally original and takes so many different forms. She also has some GREAT catchy musical hooks and elaborate orchestrations.

Just bought her first CD yesterday ("Get Away from Me") and really enjoyed that as well...but not quite as much as "Obligatory Villagers". Which means she is only getting better with time. Can't wait to hear the next one!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I contacted Nellie's publicist about the differences between the explicit and clean versions of this disc, and was told that the clean version contains three edits in which swear words were replaced by animal sounds--and that Nellie herself likes the clean version.

In light of Nellie's love for animals and her keen sense of humor, this may be one case where the clean version may be a truer representation of the artist.

Yes, I like the disc too, my only reservation being its short length. This is one talented, clever, original artist. But I'll stand aside and let others comment on the musical merits.
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Format: Audio CD
I really like this one. I complained a bit about "Pretty Little Head" because it was too much and needed paring. This is short and sweet and it works for me. I love the songs, the orchestration and the players. Nice fat trumpet sound, great sax solos, and a rough and tumble feel that's endearing to me. More than just about any album I've listened to lately, I find myself replaying the songs in my head and liking it. "Testify" is truely awesome and I can't help but love "Zombie."

I also love her singing and the contrast between her and guest singer Bob Dorough - very cool. I gotta say, you don't hear stuff like this anywhere else (or I haven't)..
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Format: Audio CD
Nellie McKay has received a lot of positive press, but the further west you get of, say, Greenwich Village, the less well known she is. So I bought this c.d., way out west, with some degree of anticipation.

And the anticipation was fulfilled, and then some, on the opening number, "Mother of Pearl." Is this a slap at feminism, or a slap at those who would slap at feminism? Judging by the tag line, "I'm Dennis Kucinich, and I approve this message," I'm guessing the latter. Whichever, it's sharply written and nicely pulled off.

From there, IMO, the c.d. goes downhill.

The problems are twofold, essentially: production; and pastiche.

Production-wise, with Nellie McKay, it's all about the lyrics, and too many times you can't clearly hear them. Plus, she sings flat once too often for my taste - painfully so on the d-flat of the word "there" (after "danger") on "Testify," but also throughout the otherwise-catchy "Zombie." I was going to defend Ms. McKay at the expense of the producer, except that I see she co-produced the c.d.

But when I say "pastiche," I mean a maddening mish-mash of themes, both musical and lyrical. Take "Identity Theft," for example, supposedly this c.d.'s "masterpiece." What's it about? Is Nellie saying that we lose our identity when we go to college? Or is she saying we kill our own identities with shameless self-promotion, in search of those damned 15 minutes? Or, is the truth of the matter that one night she got especially blottoed, ranted into the tape recorder in a free-association, stream of consciousness mode of thinking, and out of that, essentially unedited, came the lyrics of this song? Just a guess, but I'll put my money on that possibility. Many ideas are fine; but one gestalt, please.
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