Review Summary: A cartoon character LP. Surprisingly, it's decent enough to warrant a listen.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
In 1991, John Kricfalusi created The Ren and Stimpy Show. A cartoon that broke through the boundaries, shaking the animation industry like an earthquake, exploding onto the screen. He broke all previous rules that no other animator would of dared to try, and absolutely ran riot in art and story terms, creating one of the most, if not the most, subversive cartoon show of all time.
His work on the first two seasons gave him two Emmy nods. Ren and Stimpy, although attacked by critics and parents, was one of the most watched television shows ever aired. The First and Second Seasons DVD is one of the most asked-for TV-on-DVD releases, and one of the best-selling. Fans absolutely eat it up.
But Nickelodeon thought otherwise. The children's network had exhaustively censored episodes, held back from its true schizophrenic, amazing potential that the show truly had, and constantly blamed the Spumco studio for its almost breath-stealing delays, they became so increasingly nervous that they kicked Spumco out in September of 1992. A decision that would cost the show dearly. In order to continue the show's ever-rising popularity, they tried hard to copy the genius that John K had started, but, eventually, they tried too hard. The show became too uninteresting, too boring, too unfunny, and just not even watchable, and it was an absolute step down from what it should of been, a taboo-breaking, definitely award-worthy show.
But with the history over, it's time to settle down and enjoy Christmas. Only problem is.... THIS is an actual LP? I have almost never bothered to listen to Children's Music albums (SANS the TV Mania Orchestra's debut, TV Heroes), because, I've had this strange belief, that if you make a Children's Cartoon album that isn't an OST (take the symphonies from Beethoven that were so famously included in Ren and Stimpy), it loses half of its interest. Strangely, this album is somewhat of a follow-up to their first album, You Eediot! Strangely, this is, in its entirety, music, but recorded using Ren, the psychotic chihuahua's, and Stimpy, the mentally out-of-it manx cat's voices.
Now, usually when I listen to Christmas Music, it's the old stuff. You know, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", "Joy To The World", and "The 12 Days of Christmas". This Ren and Stimpy album is actually a PARODY of the classic songs. For some of the album, it comes off as rather humorous. The album gets really good at the beginning, slows down a lot from Tracks 3-9, but the last three tracks are rather good. I'm trying to debate on whether this is a concept LP or a story album. Still, if you watched R&S as a kid, you might wanna take a look at this, MP3 only, though.
Now, John K was the voice of Ren (and really good at that), but when he was fired, Billy West used his voice for the Games Animation era AND the music in these albums. This album has completely new songs, unlike You Eediot!, (it had at least 7-8 songs based off the original series, so it felt more like a compilation). West voicing Ren and Stimpy together sounds interesting enough, but he never was up to the standards of Kricfalusi's voice. In fact, the absence of the animation genius that is John K (NOTE: every once in a while Mr. K will update his blog), helps take away the album's fair potential.
The instruments in the album are really, really good, very high quality. "We're Going Shopping" as a nice drum beat in it, reminds me of a marching beat. "Cat Hairballs" has some really catchy guitar licks, and a nice, progressive groove. The epic piano in "Decorate Yourself", and the slow guitar solo in the same song. The instruments are really good for a cartoon album (and this is the first time I've been introduced to one, so it's awkward reviewing it), so I was a little impressed.
The biggest problem is the cheesy lyrics. That seems a bit obvious, though. They lack any kind of humor that the album has in SOME parts. For example, "We're Going Shopping" is the most obliviously written song on the entire album. "It's a Wizzleteats Kind of Christmas" could quite possibly go down as one of the worst songs in HISTORY. "We eat meat by-products / And choke down pre-chewed gum" Er.. what? I guess I should be impressed on how stupid that was, but I expected it, as usual.
There are some songs on here, though, that ARE destined to become family favorites. "The Twelve Days of Yaksmas" is, far and away, the single most disgusting song I have ever heard of... and the good kind of gross. I also really like how good the original was copied. "Cat Hairballs", while not as impressive as the former, contains some really good one-liners and a chorus that's just like the carol it copies (Jingle Bells). "I Hate Christmas", as I mentioned before, is basically Ren's hate-letter to the big fat guy in red, who brings "joy" to the world. However, out of everything, the closing song "Decorate Yourself" is the standout. The instrumental is beautiful, the piano is flowing, and there's actually emotion in the singing, most of which is rare in children's music, which feels way too repetitive.
Overall, it's not the duo's best work. Ren and Stimpy was a top-tier show until it the creator was pushed away from it. There's also an interview disk included on the limited edition Double LP, called "Little Crock O' Christmas: The Radio Interview Disk", which is basically Ren and Stimpy answering, that could be worth checking out if you can spare $1 or $2. There's not enough here to warrant a buy, but, if you want something somewhat humorous to listen to when the inevitable Christmas Eve comes, go ahead.
The Twelve Days of Yaksmas
The 'You Eediot' Album
The 'Radio Daze' Album