Boys Want Sex in the Morning

Uncle Bonsai

1986: Freckle Records ALL FRCD 1911

  1. Send My Body Home
  2. Isaac’s Lament
  3. In It for the Children
  4. I Want a Man
  5. Fat Boys
  6. Silent Night
  7. Don’t Put It in Your Mouth
  8. Boys Want Sex in the Morning
  9. Heartache
  10. Billboard Love
  11. Lois Lane
  12. Cheerleaders on Drugs
  13. The Star-Spangled Banner
  14. Premenstrual Syndrome (unlisted bonus track)

Yes I am aware of how rare* this is, thank you. It turned up quite inexplicably in a Folk-section CD rack at Tower Records in Glasgow, back in the mid-1990s, and when I managed to get my jaw back up off the floor I went immediately down to the cash register in order to purchase it before it vanished or anyone else who knew about the album could see it there.

I used to have this on vinyl and have loved it for years; the 1986 CD edition includes a bonus/unlabeled track about PMS as a justification for criminal acts. I’ve been singing along with all of these tracks for so many years that they’re like second nature to me, much the same way Scott Warrender’s songs are. Andrew, Ashley, and Arni are just faaaaaabulous and brilliant.

But hey, what about the actual songs here? BRILL! Just BRILL! It’s a concert recording from an appearance at The Backstage (formerly a venue in Seattle’s historically Scandinavian neighborhood Ballard, where I had the great pleasure of seeing Mouth Music tour just before the place’s demise), and they start off with the swift-and-clipped “Send My Body Home” to ensure that the audience gets up to speed immediately and plans to stay there. And they keep things moving at breathtaking, almost Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks-on-amphetamines speed overall, with moments of poignancy that still stay structured and concise.

But it’s the meat of the songs that dazzle most on this album, as is usually the case in Uncle Bonsai concerts (leaving the CD single Sponge Boy aside for the moment), and Boys Want Sex In The Morning doesn’t have a weak phrase or even a moment for the mind to wander. If you’re not being hammered with a machine-gun delivery of clever lyrics, your brain’s getting slapped with deft popular-culture references that carry an extra cargo of inferences that don’t even have time to fully register before the next zinger zips around the corner at you and zaps you.

In must be said, by the way, that their rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a masterful example of what clever havoc can be wreacked on a classic by just three voices, a handful of cultural allusions, and some delicious wit…all without actually “disrespecting” the song, necessarily (unless you’re incredibly thin-skinned and prone to ostentatiously self-proclaimed patriotism).

And then there’s “Silent Night,” which is not the Christmas carol but rather a poignant (pardon the over-used term, it’s appropriate in this instance) requiem to a loving father from an adult daughter after he’s gone. When Ashley sings “life goes on beyond my eyelids,” it’s a little more arresting in each of its successive repetitions, as is “I keep my visions in my hand.” The only other non-hilarious track on this album is the tight and tense “In It for the Children,” which presents the hypocritical and ruinous “devotion” of a married couple who’ve come to hate each other but feel the need to remain married so that the children will be raised in an illusorily stable environment; it’s a little fast and it’s a little nasty, but it’s completely appropriate, even if you temper it with Ratshin’s later (and likely applicable) lyric “Happily Ever After seemed so ripe for exploitation.”

That’s cheek-by-jowl with “I Want a Man,” a deliciously quick itemization of the traits of the ideal man as voiced by Arni and Ashley; one of the best couplets in this perfect nugget of irony is the chirpily sung “I want a man who’ll always be here / I want a man who’ll let me go!” And then there’s “Don’t Put It In Your Mouth,” a compilation of motherly advice that’s even funnier taken out of context but which also is a delightful running-with-scissors down memory lane.

*   This CD was out of print from its 1986 release until Yellow Tail Records re-released it in 2003 or 2004. The re-release includes one *extra* extra track, a studio recording of “Heartache.” The great news is that you can order it directly from them now! GO! GET A COPY FOR YOUR OWNSELF!