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How I Saved The World

Mumps

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Album Review

The Mumps were the sort of band who were destined not to fit in wherever they landed — their particular combination of pop hooks, rock guitar figures, full-on glam flamboyance, wickedly funny lyrics and unashamed charisma added up to music that was a little too smart for the house no matter where they played. The fact their lead singer Lance Loud was both America's first reality TV star and an unabashedly out-of-the-closet gay icon probably didn't encourage many folks to take them seriously, either, but How I Saved the World makes an excellent case for the argument that they were the "Great Lost Band" of the mid- to late-'70s CBGB's scene. While they were very decidedly not punk rock, the Mumps obviously shared their scene-mates desire to upend mainstream rock as it stagnated in the 1970s, and they certainly hit the ground with a sound all their own — suggesting rock cabaret that had actually learned how to rock, Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud's songs took the pop outrage of Sparks, stripped off some of the gingerbread, and ultimately improved on their model on nearly every level, while their smarty-pants wit was a good bit funnier than anyone else mining similar territory. Almost 25 years after the Mumps called it quits, "Crocodile Tears," "Fatal Charm" and "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That" sound like they should have been hit singles, "Brain Massage" is the anti-psycho-babble song Jello Biafra spent most of his career trying to write, and "I Like to Be Clean" and "Muscleboys" were prescient examples of Loud bringing the minutiae of the gay experience into rock. How I Saved the World is a souped-up version of the out-of-print 1994 collection Fatal Charm, which preserved the lion's share of the Mumps' repertoire through single sides, unreleased demos and rehearsal tapes. This edition is enriched with two unreleased songs and a bonus DVD that demonstrates the Mumps were an impressive live act, and Loud was a genius frontman. A real labor of love, How I Saved the World saves the Mumps from an oblivion they certainly didn't deserve, and this material sounds as gloriously off kilter today as it did when it was recorded, which, assuredly, is a compliment. R.I.P., Lance.

How I Saved The World, Mumps
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