Picks and Pans Review: Life in the Food Chain
updated 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 04/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST
To be fully appreciated, this LP has to be not only heard but read. The lyrics are so droll and irreverent they ought to be offered for college credit. In the cut The Funky Western Civilization (about a dance) Tonio, who got his start with the last metamorphosis of the Crickets, wails: "Now they've got poison in the water/And the whole world in a trance/But just because we're hypnotized/That don't mean we can't dance." Then there's the surreal The Ballad of the Night the Clocks All Quit (And the Government Failed), a Dadaist rocker about, among other things, the Seventh Fleet "cruisin' the center of town." The whole scheme works because it's backed by tight and satisfying rock, featuring Albert Lee and Earl Slick, a former David Bowie tour musician on guitar. The opening cut is an apocalypse rocker that ends with a title spoof of Life in the Fast Lane: "Everything gets to this certain dimension/Winds up on a customer's plate and then gone." Social protest music lives.