I was–very briefly, and really only in a manner of speaking–in a band with Joe Lavelle many, many years ago. One of us had a modicum of musical talent, and the other went on to eventually start this blog. Now, many, many years later, Joe is performing in Los Angeles under the name SexySexy Joe Lavelle, and I’m glad to report that his modicum of musical talent has grown (“like mold in the shower,” to borrow a phrase from one of his songs) to encompass comedy as well. His 2006 release, More Popular Than Reagan, deftly highlights both skill sets.
The tracks on More Popular Than Reagan paint a twisted picture of life in these United States at the dawn of the new millennium. Opening with “Jesus Said He Loves You,” Lavelle pulls no punches; the title’s rejoinder is that Jesus was drunk at the time, so the declaration is meaningless. Likewise, a track titled “Sharing” refers less to the beauty of a selfless relationship than to the unifying bond inherent in holding STDs in common with a loved one. “I Only Drink When I Parent” is largely self-explanatory. Perhaps the strongest title on the CD is “Erin Gray,” a paean to the (minor) 80’s icon of Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons fame. Perhaps, then, it’s appropriate that More Popular Than Jesus puts me in a late-eighties mindset as far as the music goes. I’m thinking works of lo-fi Jenius (with a capital J) like “The Daves I Know” by the Kids in the Hall and, fast-forwarding a few years, The Young Fresh Fellows’ Electric Bird Digest. The less-kid-friendly work of They Might Be Giants also comes to mind, as does the entire ouevre of “Weird Al” Yankovic. (I’d liken Joe to Flight of the Conchords, but the comparison seems a little unfair, as More Popular Than Reagan predates the American debut of the Conchords’ TV series by a year.) Overall, it’s a wacky little CD, one that’s bound to drive everyone in the house batty (in a good way) after only a few rotations. My only lament is that I didn’t stick it out with Joe’s band–if I had, then maybe I’d be bigger than Reagan, too.