Dick Taut and the Ripcords – The Sage-Quest of Unknown Mustang
Receiving this album in the mail, it had a lot going against it upon first glance. The cheesy artwork, song titles involving bongs and pot, a terrible choice in typography and awkward resizing of images left me guessing that this album would not contain a pleasing listen. Sorry to say, but after giving it a chance it didn’t make a difference that I actually listened to it. Being a reviewer and all, I didn’t want to give it a second listen, which is something I do to make sure I’m not misunderstanding something the first time through.
Perhaps I should fill you in on my set of biases. First, I went to design school, and I know first hand there are a ton of designers out there willing to do decent work for cheap, and that makes for some decent album art. Second, I won’t pretend to be immensely steeped in “pot culture,” so I’ve got to tell you that all the overly “immature” pot references that this album contains left me skeptical from the start. Third, I actually like hip-hop (and you’ll see where this is going in a minute).
I can say there was at least one redeeming quality to the album: The most entertaining thing it did was allow me to listen to some MF Doom songs get dragged through the dirt. There is such a thing as appropriation, and it can be done well (see also: Jens Lekman and MF Doom himself using samples to create his loops), but sorry Dick Taut and the Ripcords, you did little to impress. At most, you showed us listeners that you got a hold of MF Doom’s Special Herbs Vol. 1 & 2. Strike one: “The Vision-Quest of Unknown Klamath” takes the song “Zatar” and lays a guitar and assumingly funny singing over it. “How Much Dick Can You Take” takes “Charnsuka” and adds vocals about smoking bongs to a great MF Doom instrumental: sorry guys, strike two. “The Devil Stomped James Power’s Ass” takes “Sumac Berries” and contributes some more quirky lyrics sung over it. Oops, there’s strike three, and it’s official: you’re out.
I must say the better songs on this album could be equated to the worst/most ridiculous songs that Modest Mouse wrote for their record Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Bad artwork aside, this album did give me a good time trying to guess which MF Doom songs were used and subsequently seeking them out in my iTunes.