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Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band

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Album Review

At the height of the U.K.-imported punk movement, the United States answered with its own Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band. Along with support singers the Rootettes, Root Boy Slim (aka Foster MacKenzie III) was both a tongue-in-cheek parody of the generally unkempt punk rock scene and the leader of a fairly well-received and established blues bar combo. Their renown up and down the Atlantic seaboard was nothing short of a guide to low-brow humor and the "frat boy" lifestyle as espoused by the likes of 1978's Animal House. Throw in a heapin' helpin' of proto-redneck sensibilities and voila. Listeners are served up classic originals, notably the leadoff track, "Boogie 'Til You Puke" — a cross between a command from Root Boy Slim and an alcoholic's rendition of the Twist. And they're just getting warmed up, as the remainder of the combo's entrée follows with a similar hard-livin' and harder-lovin' sentiment. These include an ode to underage sex, "I'm Not Too Old for You," that is as unappealing as the title intimates. In the spirit of David Peel and the antics of his Lower East Side assemblage, "I Used to Be a Radical" is an upbeat rocker with lyrics such as "I drove a truck/Full of ice cream/Had to try to hit Spiro Agnew at 80 miles per hour/Just to see if the sucker had time to scream." There is no better predilection for the "Me Generation" than the self-absorbed instant gratification paean "I Want It Now," which is a funky little stomper with one helluva groove. Ever topical for the mid-'70s, "Mood Ring" is typical of the pounding barroom blues that the Sex Change Band quickly became infamous for. Another sendup of concurrent pop music is "Too Sick to Reggae," with a slightly tropical melody and another descriptive bout of lyrics. Root Boy returns to native soil with "Country Love," singing about old-fashioned shackin' up in the unforgettable lines "Over in the tractor shed/Usin' a feedbag for a bed/It is somethin' we was bred to do/'Cause our mamas and papas wuz [sic] country too." Of course, Warner Bros. Records were not exactly sure how to market Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band in 1978. Were they comedy, blues, or punk? They found remarkable success throughout Europe and issued several more albums before Foster MacKenzie III passed on June 8, 1993, at the age of 48.

Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band, Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band
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