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Lounging With the Lounge-O-Leers

They're b-a-a-a-ck! The LOUNGE-O-LEERS have a new CD, to which Michael Portantiere reacts with due horror. logo

Meet the Lounge-O-Leers
(Emenar Records)

What can I say that hasn't already been said? The Lounge-O-Leers are to rock and roll what Anna Russell was to classical music, and what Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were to the great American songbook. In the fine tradition of those musical pranksters, the Lounge-O-Leers--aka Ricky Ritzel and Aaaron "Hot Rod" Morishita--lift intentionally bad music to the level of art. Never has such an awful album been so thoroughly enjoyable.

Perhaps the world's most frightening club act, though it's a close contest, the Lounge-O-Leers traffic in what their press materials describe as "planned mediocrity." They are (in)famous for their appearances at such New York hot-spots as Fez, Judy's Chelsea, the Emerald, and--how perfect is this?--Hannah's Lava Lounge. "They are to music what Austin Powers is to film," raved Joey Reynolds of WOR Radio. "This wacky, synthesized duo plays the sounds of the Caesar's Palace elevator," beamed the San Francisco Weekly. Not to be outdone, the Lounge-O-Leers describe themselves as "the hottest musical duo since the Captain & Tennille."

Their latest CD has been issued on the Emenar Records label (a name which I'm willing to bet should be read as "M and R," for Morishita and Ritzel). It contains a marvelous sampling of the group's oeuvre, from an uptempo rendition of "Science Fiction Double Feature" (The Rocky Horror Show) to a stoned arrangement of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" to a unique version of the title song from the Broadway musical It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman! The Lounge-O-Leers have a knack for taking the hooks of famous songs and making them their own; just wait till you hear what they do to the "wo-wo-wo" section of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," not to mention what they do to the rest of the number. They also pay homage to Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"), Madonna ("Like a Virgin"), Abba ("The Winner Takes it All"), and The Supremes ("I Hear a Symphony"). Nor do the boys ignore the inexhaustible font of culture that is television; on the contrary, they put their own special spin on the theme songs of Mission: Impossible and The X Files.

It's often said that art has the power to change our worldview, and the Lounge-O-Leers offer incontrovertible proof of that thesis. Should you happen to catch one of their live performances or experience them on CD, you may never be the same again.

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