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Music Review: Harry Shearer – Can’t Take A Hint

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Harry Shearer (born 1943) has had a versatile, if sometimes underappreciated, career. He began as a child actor in the 1953 film Abbott and Costello Go to Mars and went on to appear in dozens of films and television episodes. As an adult he had a couple of stints on Saturday Night Live and acted in the film This Is Spinal Tap. His two greatest claims to fame are as a voice actor on The Simpsons and the host of the long running syndicated radio program Le Show.

He has now expanded his horizons with the release of the album, Can’t Take A Hint. It is sort of a cross between music and comedy. He has met a lot of people during his career and here he invites some of his musician acquaintances to help out, including Dr. John, The Fountains of Wayne, Jane Lynch, Jeff Baxter, and Steve Lukather, among others.

His recent albums were centered around one subject but here he moves in a number of directions and explores various topics. He tackles the failings of celebrities, the price of war, and even the weather. There are a few traditional songs but much of the album is reserved for musical sketches, which are a good vehicle for his brand of satire.

“Celebrity Booze Endorser” is a biting criticism of celebrities who are spokespersons for the liquor industry. “Deaf Boys” is a dark song that examines the abuse of priests against deaf boys. “Trillion Dollar Bargain” looks at the cost of the war in Iraq but does so from a Motown musical perspective. “Bridge To Nowhere” makes fun of Sarah Palin and projects that go nowhere despite the cost.

The album takes a different turn with “Autum In New Orleans” and “Touch My Junk.” The first is a heartfelt, Dr. John-infused tribute to New Orleans and Hoagy Carmichael. The second is a satiric song about airport security, but Baxter’s guitar, dobro, and pedal steel skill give it a different feel from much of the album.

Shearer has created an interesting album that allows him to explore and in many cases criticize the world around him. His humor has always had an edge to it and here he brings it to his music. If you are in the mood for something different then this may be an album for you.

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