Monday, June 6, 2011

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipmunk Rock

Review # 7
Artist: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Title: Chipmunk Rock
Format: LP
Label: RCA
Year: 1982
Songs: 10

I didn't actually expect there to be much difference between this and Chipmunk Punk in terms of my overall enjoyment, but I must say, Chipmunk Rock is a better record. The production on the music is actually noticeably better, and Alvin and the boys' vocals are a little less shrill. Versions of Devo's "Whip it" and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" were actually kind of rockin,' likewise with their cover of "Jessie's Girl." Mostly, this record is early 80s hits, as performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and it's sort of fun.

What stands out on this record , however, is less the music than the other stuff. This gate fold LP opens up to reveal a picture illustrating each song, and some of these are really quite bizarre. The picture that goes along with "Betty Davis Eyes" features the chipmunks hanging out with seven Betty Davises (Betty Davi?) and looking uncomfortable.  "Heartbreaker" features a picture of Alvin talking on the phone, next to several labeled volumes of black books, his walls covered with pictures of women admirers (human, not chipmunk). It's just weird. There are also some amusing skits on the record.  It begins with the chipmunks singing some barbershop music, as they were apt to do back in the 1960s.  Dave tells them he's going out for a bit, and to keep practicing. He tells them they are not to play any rock 'n roll while he's gone. The record concludes with his return, and the chipmunks abruptly switch back to the same barbershop song so as not to be caught in the act of playing rock music. Even more entertaining is the skit that precedes their cover of "Leader of the Pack," which sees our chipmunk friends conflicted about whether or not to perform a "girl's song." Simon and Theodore attempt to make Alvin wear a wig to sing this song, asking him, "haven't you ever heard of a chippette?" Alvin is initially resistant, but eventually ends up participating in the chipmunks' drag number. Oddly though, the "leader of the pack" is renamed Alvin in the song ("is that Alvin's ring you're wearing?"), which means that what we have going on here is Alvin in drag singing a love song about himself in which he describes his own death in a tragic motorcycle accident. Try not to think too hard about it. It's just confusing.

Devo fans: check out The Chipmunks version of "Whip It"

Total songs listened so far: 91

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