The Lovin’ Spoonful
What’s Up Tiger Lily/You’re a Big Boy Now
Razor and Tie
What’s Up, Tiger Lily? is a Woody Allen film — sorta. Starting with a Japanese spy film, Allen stripped out all dialogue and inserted his own. The results are worth seeing, and you should check out your local video store for this title. This reissue of the soundtrack comes bundled with another Lovin’ Spoonful soundtrack, You’re a Big Boy Now (a Coppola film, no less). Though I’m no expert on the band, it doesn’t take a whole lot of knowledge to appreciate John Sebastian’s wry melodies and distinctive arrangements. The Spoonful’s mellow pop approach was often imitated, but hardly duplicated — the band may have danced close to the line marking out schmaltz, but were adroit enough never to overstep it. The opening “Pow,” despite its hurried, slapdash feel, makes several appearances throughout the pieces; that belies the band’s versatility. Other moments on What’s Up, Tiger Lily? range from Vampyros Lesbos jazzy psychedelia (“Gray Prison Blues”) to the “coming soon to a Publix commercial” breezyness of “Fishin’ Blues.” I’m glad to hear this soundtrack without the distracting movie hilarity; it showcases the ingenuity and diversity of a band that these days often (unjustly!) gets pigeonholed with “all that hippy crap.”
You’re A Big Boy Now has a similar approach, but is more consistent in its contents. The wavering harmonica melody of “Lonely (Ann’s Theme)” (again) vacilates between pop tune and elevator music, but the band has things well in control. “Dixieland Big Boy” is a waddling, tooting rendition of the main theme, but fortunately things never deteriorate into self-parody. The lewd and suggestive “Miss Thing’s Thang” is followed by “March,” which often sounds like a winded Sousa.
Overall, this gem of an album has enough interesting musical moments to keep just about anyone inspired. Bonus treat: grow fond of this, then rent the flicks. Razor & Tie Music, P.O. Box 585, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276