The name Gary Lucas should be no stranger to fans of the avant-garde, as the guitarist has recorded with the legendary Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, and Peter Hammill, among others. Here, along with his band Fleischerei, which includes Sarah Stiles (vocals), Joe Fiedler (trombone), Jeff Lederer (woodwinds), Michael Bates (acoustic bass), and Rob Garcia (drums), the group pays tribute to the music of the classic Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1930s. That's right, Betty Boop and Popeye's very own Olive Oyl, recreated with plenty of charm by Broadway vocalist Stiles, with the rest of the band adding in that vintage jazz ambience. If this whole idea sounds like a bit of an oddity, well, it certainly is for the most part, though there is an appeal here that is hard to deny. Musically, the band drop in plenty of '30s styled swing jazz, with clarinet, sax, guitar, and trombone leading the charge, leaving the alluring Stiles to recreate the voices of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, and she does a great job overall, especially on "Don't Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away", "The Broken Record", and "I Want a Clean Shaven Man". Her charms are on full display alongside the tasty picking of Lucas and Fiedler's sultry trombone on "Ain't Cha", and the hilarious "Beware of Barnacle Bill" is a must hear for everyone who remembers the great Popeye cartoon from their childhood.
As fun as Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons is, there's probably a pretty limited audience for a recording of this nature. That being said, anyone who fondly remembers those classic Max Fleischer cartoon characters, and likes a little bit of jazz, will certainly want to give this a listen.
1. Sweet Betty (1:09)
2. Don't Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away (2:27)
3. That's My Weakness Now (3:45)
4. I Want a Clean Shaven Man (3:20)
5. Penthouse Serenade (When We're Alone) (5:11)
6. The Broken Record (3:05)
7. The Music Goes Round and Round (2:44)
8. Ain't Cha (3:40)
9. Brotherly Love (2:44)
10. Little Pal (2:58)
11. Do Something (5:31)
12. Beware of Barnacle Bill [a re-creation of the full cartoon soundtrack] (6:28)