The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Marc Catley & The Flaming Methodists
Label: Plankton Records (UK)
Time: 32 tracks / 72:54 minutes

Greenbelt's resident satirist's latest album is designed to be listened to in three parts. The first part is a set of typical Marc Catley satire songs, the second is "a progressive rock gospel opera in one act," and the third is a set of satirical acoustic pieces--including a reprise of the earlier track, "Good Wholesome Entertainment for the Christian Young Man."

Little can escape the satirical tongue of Marc Catley, from concert promoters to REM, but most especially TCM. What's TCM, you ask? Well, apparently it's also known as Temporary Christian Music...Musically, some of this is a little tedious, but in terms of lyrics I for one found it fairly amusing, if not for repeated plays.

The rock opera is set in a fictional country known as Eschatologica and continues with the tongue firmly in cheek. Catley's slightly progressive guitar work drives it all along with an experimental slant, but you won't particularly be listening to this album for the music.

Not the sort of album which is designed for regular play, this is an amusing listen and Catley's satire is sometimes more than appropriate. To end with, perhaps the reader would care to tell me whether track six has the longest song title ever (the song itself is ten seconds long):  "The eternal and never ending dance of life that weaves across the cosmos in wave after wave of pulsating vibrating vibrant warmth from the heart of deep majestic suns fed on interstellar dust that is the carrier of the seed of the life essence that we call love."

By James Stewart (1/13/99)