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Silent Nightclub
Artist: Richard Cheese 
Label: Surfdog Records
Length: 14/25:09

To get an idea of what Richard Cheese is all about, picture "Weird" Al Yankovic doing his polka medleys as a Vegas lounge act. In fact, the Weird One makes an unbilled guest appearance at one point. If that doesn't work for you, think of Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live singing the Theme from Star Wars, with Paul Shaffer on piano.

Like most novelty/parody records, the effective half laugh of the humor contained wears off quickly. The first listen elicits some honest laughter, the second a few chuckles, the third a few grins, and thereafter the novelty exists only for new listeners. However, there are a few songs receiving the lounge treatment here that absolutely work. 

The disc's highlight undoubtedly is a song that contains an elaborate piano torch song intro, followed by the words "Stop, collaborate, and listen...". "Ice Ice Baby," originally by Vanilla Ice by way of Queen/David Bowie's "Under Pressure" is arranged in such a way that it is almost beyond recognition, until you reach the chorus. The Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" are two of the better racks here, and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" gets a similar type of sendup. "The Trees" (Rush) is probably the most obscure track, and only hardcore Rush fans will be able to decipher its lyrics. 

Misses include songs that never get finished, such as "I Melt With You" (Modern English), and "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (Band Aid). The joke that is intended with the Barking Dogs version of "Jingle Bells" falls absolutely flat. John Lennon's "Imagine" is like a failed punchline on an open mic night. 

Richard Cheese (and band Lounge Against the Machine) acheive exactly what they've set out to do here: get a few laughs, get a few more groans, and a few "what was that"'s. Give them credit for finding a niche, but take away points for doing what my three year old son does - telling the same joke over and over and over... 

Brian A. Smith
30 January 2007



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