Monday, October 01, 2007
The Simpsons - Testify: A Whole Lot More Original Music from the Television Series
CD Review by Sombrero Grande
As Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie march into their 19th season on television, along comes the third The Simpsons CD soundtrack featuring original music from the show. It's called Testify, and it features tunes from the 10th through 18th seasons.
While it is no small feat for a television show to be able to say it's coming close to rounding out its second decade on the air, just about any Simpsons fan will tell you that the last decade of the show (the period that the new CD covers) has been, at best, uneven. Testify testifies to that in showcasing some scattered amusing material, with a lot of "filler" that comes across as uninspired or perplexing.
Highlights of the album include "Weird Al" Yankovic's brief "Jack and Diane" parody, "Homer and Marge," Ricky Gervais' song "Lady" and the "Lady Riff" that played over the ending credits of that episode, the "Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl" theme and the "Copacabana" parody "Island of Sirens." Quite a few medleys bulk up the album (which otherwise features mainly songs of about a minute in duration), including "The President Wore Pearls" (the Simpsons' take on Evita), "My Fair Laddy" (a My Fair Lady parody) and "King of Cats" (spoofing the Lion King Broadway musical). The "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" medley is amusing, but neglects to add the "Moe Moe Moe" song at the end of the episode even though the track contains the dialogue from when David Byrne meets Moe.
Contrasting the longer tracks on the album that highlight some of the more "musical" episodes of the show, there are also some very brief tracks that seem like odd additions to the mix. How, for example, does the simple jingle from the "Baby Stink Breath" commercial warrant its own track? While Testify boasts a large number of celebrity performers, including Shawn Colvin, Los Lobos and the B-52s, there are also odd additions like the track "Who Wants a Haircut?" which features the Baha Men literally singing those words a few times to the tune of their "Who Let the Dogs Out?" song. Seriously, was anyone clamoring to own their own copy of this?
The title of the album comes from its second track, "Testify," from the episode "Faith Off." The artwork throughout the album carries on the hymnal/gospel theme, which seems odd since the other Simpsons soundtrack CDs weren't so specific in their treatment. Neither the song nor the episode it came from are particularly significant to the show as a whole, so I can't figure out why its featured so prominently as a selling point to the disc. To me, it seems that if the folks behind this release were so driven to use a single track on the album as a title, a better choice would have been "They'll Never Stop the Simpsons," which is a parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" all about the Simpsons' adventures on the show so far.
Casual fans of the show won't find much of interest contained in Testify. Well-known, classic Simpsons tunes (such as the Stonecutters Song, "Mr. Plow" and "See My Vest") have already been released on the previous CDs (Songs in the Key of Springfield and Go Simpsonic with the Simpsons). The tunes in Testify can get pretty obscure. Sure the booklet that comes with the disc offers up what episode each song came from, but it doesn't explain, for example, that the song, "You're a Bunch of Stuff" has to do with Marge getting breast enlargements. The fact that those who haven't memorized every episode of the show's later seasons will be left confused when Homer's voice cuts out mid-lyric in "What Do I Think of the Pie?" just goes to prove that Testify is a soundtrack album for the most hardcore of Simpsons fans only.
Chances are if you're a hardcore Simpsons fan you've already bought this album. For those of you who haven't memorized every episode of The Simpsons and are on the fence about picking up Testify, my advice is pass.