Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Urban Chipmunk

Review # 8
Artist: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Title: Urban Chipmunk
Format: LP
Label: RCA
Year: 1981
Songs: 10

Urban Chipmunk sees us crossing the 100 song line for this blog, and also, thankfully, concludes our chipmunk reviews (until Christmas...). 1981's Urban Chipmunk was our rodent friends' first foray into country music, coming, oddly enough, between Chipmunk Punk and Chipmunk Rock. It shares several features with Chipmunk Rock: illustrations for each song, grumpy appearances by Dave Seville, and the weird little skits. This one opens with the Chipmunks performing John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." At the end of the song, Dave yells at the chipmunks to go to bed, because it's two o'clock in the morning. Now, it's reasonable to ask what Alvin & Co. are doing playing country music at 2am, but Dave's frustration is perhaps even more understandable on examination of the illustration for this song. We see the chipmunks in their living room.  Alvin stands on the couch wearing his black cowboy hat, singing and playing a fiddle, while Simon and Theodore, also in country apparel, dance on the floor.  There are pieces of hay or straw strewn about, and there are several chickens, some pigs, and and a cow in the room. Dave looks on in dismay.

Now, if memory serves, the chipmunks were based out of New York City, so how they got these animals into the apartment at all is a mystery.  But if this is the scene Dave walked in on at 2am, one can hardly blame him for his frustration, which grows over the course of the record as Alvin and friends more and more flagrantly disregard the correct lyrics of the country hits this record is made up of, replacing them with their own lyrics about chipmunks (i.e. "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys Chipmunks."

Other highlights include a royally botched performance of "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" with the song's author Larry Butler trying to coach the chipmunks through the lyrics of the chorus, and Alvin's odd and inter-species marriage proposal to country singer Brenda Lee in "Made for Each Other." Here we see Alvin trying to convince Brenda of his country cred by suggesting he'll show up to court her wearing collard greens, but to no avail. "You're a chipmunk, I'm a lady. We don't have much in common," Lee sings as she rebuffs Alvin's proposal. "I'm a country girl. I think I'm better suited to a big strong country man." Yikes.

I've had enough of reviewing chipmunks records, and we're about to switch gears in dramatic fashion.

Total songs listened: 101

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