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Dr. Demento Covered in Punk
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  • Dr. Demento Covered in Punk is a double CD or triple LP presented in the style of the legendary DJ's radio programs (which he still recorded and posted online every week, as of early 2018), focusing on punk rock and featuring all-exclusive material. Demento isn't just the world's foremost authority on novelty music, he's also a veritable music historian, and his between-song announcements are filled with facts, trivia, and anecdotes. The songs covered here prove that his enthusiasm for the history of recorded music has rubbed off on his listeners -- all of the bands featured on the album seem to have grown up with his program, and know all of the show's biggest hits by heart. Just witness James Kochalka Superstar's typically enthusiastic version of "Dead Puppies." The songs covered run the gamut from mid-century novelty tunes such as the Demento standard "Shaving Cream" (which New Jersey TV legend Uncle Floyd interprets twice, once with punk-themed lyrics) to various '70s and '80s punk classics. Cut to the chase: the undisputed highlight of the entire album is the segment where the mighty Brak breaks into the studio and belts out Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized," accompanied by kazoo and ukulele -- something that really should've happened on Cartoon Planet back in the mid-'90s. Second place is Scharpling & Wurster character Philly Boy Roy's take on the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," which is immediately followed by the Milkmen themselves, with a rousing rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" (made famous by Groucho Marx). Most of the songs are short, which means there are way too many tracks on this thing to pick out every single highlight, but it's hard to go wrong with William Shatner covering the Cramps' "Garbageman" or Weird Al Yankovic doing an accordion-infused run through the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat." Not every track needs to be heard more than once, and somehow, surprisingly, nobody recorded a version of Black Flag's "TV Party" for the album. As a whole, though, the collection is an enormous labor of love and laughter, and is great fun for any punk who also happens to be a gigantic music nerd. ~ Paul Simpson
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