Best known as the male front man for the B-52's and an American trash-culture icon, Fred Schneider has put out two solo albums in his career. The first was a new wavey dance album of little consequence. Just Fred is his second, and indie-rock marvel with producer Steve Albini (Shellac, Nirvana, Man or Astro-Man?), Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (Kids in the Hall theme song), Six Finger Satellite, and Deadly Cupcake. There's some members of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in there, too. While Fred isn't much of an indie/punk front man, he has made an insanely fun album which, it appears, absolutely nobody has ever heard of and exists mostly in cut-out bins, promo bins, and cut-out promo bins.
If you're in to mid-90's indie rock and the B-52's, this is a CD that you absolutely must have. It bathes itself in fun, amusing lyrics and very compelling musicians. The album's high energy comes from those involved and its breakneck development time. Legend has it this album was produced from beginning to end in a couple of weeks, including the time it took to pen the songs... all of which except for Coconut are originals. Coconut, for those with a good memory, was a novelty song around in the '80s quite a bit about the guy wanting to put a lime in the coconut and drinking it all up. Fred's bellowing makes for a very different sound, and his backup band gives the song a distinctly different flavor which fits in with the rest of the album quite well.
"I thought this was a party!" Fred screams in the second track as only he can, and that really is the best way to describe the sound he's helped to create here. The man is having a lot of fun, and Steve Albini lends his usual high production values to the tracks including Secret Sharer which has his usual muffled, echo vocal thumbprint.
Since this album didn't make much of a splash, it's pretty easily had used for under ten bucks. Actually, I've seen this album at $0.10, $0.50, $2.50, and various other prices in discount bins of all prices. Even at full price, this album is a real treat and bursting with a kind of fun, party energy you never see in indie albums, or really in much music at all these days. This is a genuine treat, and if Fred Schneider doesn't give you a headache this could be the best kept secret at your music store.
For the vinyl fans out there, there's even a rare LP pressing out to be on the lookout for. Music fans, music dorks, and those who need a decent party album, you can't do much better than this. From the look of things, most online music stores no longer stock it, but from personal experience I can pretty much guarantee your local new and used music store has a copy or three.
December 15, 2003