- Dancing Dinosaurs!
Humble Grumble is a Belgian band with all the seriousness one would expect from a band whose latest album cover features a dinosaur (a parasaurolophus, to be precise) on a blue backdrop. Besides the cover (and title) for Guzzle It Up!, their stage presence and lyrics (and titles) to songs like Skunks (“Two little skunks crapped in my armchair. Three little skunks farting so tender.”) indicate more than a passing silliness.
Beneath the silly presentation, however, lies some truly impressive musicianship. Their sound is heavily influenced by such Canterbury Scene bands as Soft Machine and Gong, with a healthy dose of Frank Zappa, and they possess both the songwriting and technical capabilities to pull it off without sounding like a cheap knockoff.
As seems to be the case with prog bands, the longest songs on the album are often the best, and Guzzle It Up! is no exception. At 10:29, “The Dancing Dinosaur” is the longest track on the album and my personal favorite. Like many longer songs, each musician really gets a chance to demonstrate their virtuosity in the solo sections. The song also features the catchiest chorus on the album (with “Pate a Tartiner” a close second) and some amusing touches, such as an unexpected hillbilly boogie section (somewhat akin to the Idiot Flesh song “Chicken Little,” though not quite as jarring).
The whole album is surprisingly catchy and listenable, given its complex nature and avant-jazz influences. Even elements that I might have found otherwise annoying, such as the odd falsetto vocals in songs like “The Campfire Strikes Back” and the thoroughly weird “Accidentally in San Sebastian,” worked so well within the musical and lyrical context that they didn’t bother me at all.
In the words of Humble Grumble, “Thank you very much for listening to my useless reflection. I hope I did not bore you.”