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The Mumps were one of the most obscure, but distinctive, New York bands of the late '70s, performing an absurdly theatrical fusion of pop, punk, and glam rock. Led by vocalist Lance Loud, the group's music was an affectionate satire of '70s kitsch culture, predating the similar obsessions of the B-52's by a number of years. The Mumps rocked as hard as the New York Dolls, while writing clever pop hooks that updated trashy garage and bubblegum singles of the '70s. Although they never even earned a large underground following, the group was a favorite of many punk rockers of the era (including the Ramones, Blondie, the New York Dolls, X, Television, the Cramps, Devo, and the Go-Go's), as well as '80s alternative rockers like R.E.M., Game Theory, and Sparks. In addition to Lance Loud, the core lineup of the Mumps also featured keyboardist Kristiann Hoffman, guitarist Rob Duprey, bassist Kevin Kiely, and drummer Paul Rutner. Over the years, the lineup changed slightly, with Loud, Hoffman, and Duprey remaining the constant members in each incarnation of the band. The Mumps only released two singles while they were active in the late '70s, but in 1994, Eggbert Records released a CD called Fatal Charms that compiled everything the band ever recorded, including outtakes, alternate takes, and live rehearsals. Fatal Charms proves that the Mumps' music remains vibrant, creative, and intoxicatingly bizarre decades after it was recorded. Their entire output (plus two previously unreleased songs and a DVD containing live footage, a photo slide show and live audio tracks) was issued by Sympathy for the Record Industry as How I Saved the World in June of 2005. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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