Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
Books:
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
Writings:
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  Contact
  What's New?
    RSS
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

The Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band [extended]

  • You Must Remember This [Gert Town, 1995] A
  • The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane [Rough Trade, 2002] *
  • It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through [Rough Trade, 2003] **
  • 12 Crass Songs [Rough Trade, 2008] C-
  • Dook of the Beatniks [Piety Street Files & Archaic, 2010] A-
  • Come on Board [no label, 2011] A-
  • A Turn in the Dream-Songs [Rough Trade, 2011] A-
  • Both Ways [Bandcamp, 2021] A
  • Peter Stampfel's 20th Century in 100 Songs [Louisiana Red Hot, 2021] A

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Peter Stampfel: You Must Remember This [Gert Town, 1995]
Stampfel has never known the meaning of the word respect, which is OK because he's never known the meaning of the word disrespect either. And if this made him a misfit among folkies, that was OK too--he was a misfit everywhere else. For his entire three-decade "career," the last half of which has had a distinctly not-for-profit aura, his own lyrics have celebrated the normality of his misfit life while his intense, eccentric, comic, loud, sincere vocal interpretations imparted to the widest range of pop songs ever negotiated by a single performer the beauty and wonder he originally discerned in Charlie Poole, Charlie Patton, and other icons of authenticity. Stampfel's enthusiasm is so unquenchable you figure he's got to be making fun of such understandably forgotten copyrights as "Haunted Heart" and "Cry of the Wild Goose," and for sure he's not above it. But he is above belittling a song--any fun he may fashion from one is just another facet of its mystery. Stampfel the inveterate fakebook collector says he loves the chords of the impossible favorites he resuscitates here, and I believe him. I also believe he's such a sucker for music that once he falls for a progression he wants to tie the knot for life. A

Jeffrey Lewis: The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane [Rough Trade, 2002]
forlorn, funny (anti) folkie who isn't getting laid ("Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song," "Life") *

Jeffrey Lewis: It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through [Rough Trade, 2003]
Doubles as a cartoonist, where it's harder to cram so many words in ("Don't Let the Record Company Take You Out to Lunch," "You Don't Have to Be a Scientist to Do Experiments on Your Own Heart"). **

Jeffrey Lewis: 12 Crass Songs [Rough Trade, 2008]
Drolly self-deprecating anti-folkie covers iconic anarcho-punk Purists for ultraleft analysis in musical form--that's just what this reeling world could use, you'd think. And indeed, it's not altogether stupid. But it's also hate-filled and hateful--not just the Crass, but second-generation beatnik Lewis, who like most hereditary bohemians was brought up to think he's better than normal people. However well he understands capitalist exploitation, his emotional response is stunted: "I hate the living dead and their work in factories/They go like sheep to their production lines." ("Like sheep"--what a cool image!) Historically, people in this economy have taken what they can get and had some fun in their spare time. They like Sarah Palin because they know she's as smart as Jeffrey Lewis and suspect they're not all that far behind themselves. C-

Peter Stampfel: Dook of the Beatniks [Piety Street Files & Archaic, 2010]
Having caught half these songs on the fly at gigs, I was so eager for the 1999 recordings to reach the marketplace that I volunteered to help Stampfel clean up his liner notes. Run through the excitable yelp that's mellowed and roughened only slightly in the ex-rounder's hi-NRG dotage, the lyrics get better still when you're able to dial back and make sure that that's what he just said. Two big sloppy marital love songs flank two outbursts of wordplay to kick-start the proceedings at a high that trails off for nine relatively mortal tracks. But the last four songs are zoom zoom zoom zoom, climaxing with a New Year's Eve rewrite of Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin'" and a morning-after rewrite of what those notes call "the wackest and most amazing gospel song" Stampfel's ever heard. Its sole remaining original line: "Holy terror's gonna blow you up for Jesus." A-

Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Lewis: Come on Board [no label, 2011]
Stampfel will be 73 this year, hence perhaps his get-it-while-you-can production surge. Not only are albums tumbling out of him, he's gigging like crazy and sitting in with one of his many friends whenever he can. In fact, that's how this keepsake came about--as something to sell on an already scheduled U.K. tour, recorded in two dark days at the winter solstice. The equally hyperactive young Lewis proves an even better fit than his harmonizing daughter ZoŽ--the Sparrow to his Tuli, only each has more to say. The unrehearsed band make for a discernible improvement over Stampfel's recent Uncle Gramps and ZoŽ records and a drastic one over his Worm All-Stars record, as do Lewis's not-quite-nonsense songs for Jules Verne and Madame Tussaud and his fiddle-fed 10-minute earworm of a strophic closer. Stampfel's contributions include two of the dreamsongs he writes whenever he wakes up with a melody bouncing around his brain, several welcome remakes of old Antonias, and a lovely, loving throwaway called "Love Love Love." And here's the 72-year-old fun part. Lewis has a website and Stampfel a MySpace thingy. But the only simple way to obtain this enduring work of whatever-it-is is to buy a postage stamp and send a brief note and a check for 15 smackeroos to Peter Stampfel, Post Office Box 223, New York NY 10014. In the note, which can include words of love and encouragement if you like, ask him to mail you one. Hell, ask him to sign it. You have nothing to lose. A-

Jeffrey Lewis: A Turn in the Dream-Songs [Rough Trade, 2011]
So maybe the idea of this oddly constructed album is to "turn" from some OK meditative songs at track five, commencing a run of six A-OK outgoing ones before re"turn"ing to three meditative ones--and then breaking a minute of silence with the gangsta-ripping "Mosquito Mass Murderist"? That's a guideline, anyway. Try "Cult Boyfriend," one of the funnier and more philosophical of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or "When You're by Yourself," one of the sadder and more touching of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or the all-encompassing "Krongu Green Slime," a cartoonist-cum-folkie's six-minute history of consumerism from "the time before land" to "the time after land." It's also about the meaning of life, if there is one. A-

Both Ways [Bandcamp, 2021]
Recorded in 2017 with Stampfel's voice undiminished, this 22-track double album is available only via Lewis's Bandcamp page. It reprises many Stampfel & Antonia chestnuts while introducing many new Lewis songs, some of which cop melodies from such sources as Jimmy Driftwood, the Searchers, Cyndi Lauper, Anthology of American Folk Music, and a Stampfel banjo fantasia. Then there are covers of such arcana as Hawkwind's "Orgone Accumulator," Autosalvage's "Same White Light," (Lou Reed and) the Beachnuts' "Cycle Annie," and retrofitted ditties from the life list in Stampfel's memory book. The Lauper steal "True Tax Forms" addresses a now deposed president. "Heroin" is repurposed with lyrics that merit the stark title "Internet" before "Marquee Moon" is covered straight next track. And the opener is an every-which-way musical manifesto the rest of this curated, offhand hodgepodge embodies like there's no tomorrow on the off chance that there may be one. A

Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel's 20th Century in 100 Songs [Louisiana Red Hot, 2021]
See A Century in Four Hours and Forty Minutes. A