Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
Savvy Show Stoppers
Label: Cargo Records
Reviewed by: michael buchmiller
"Savvy Show Stoppers" is the debut full length CD from Toronto's Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. It is a collection of five previously released and out of print 7" singles recorded between 1985 and 1988. While most people have never heard of the band, some people know them as the band that provided the theme song and interludes to "The Kids in the Hall." If that rings any bells, then you are immediately familiar with their fuzzed-out, edgy, instrumental surf music. If not, well now you know.
For those only familiar with their "Kids in the Hall" theme song, have no fear, as "Having an Average Weekend" is one of the 18 tracks on the album. But this band had so much more to offer. "Malfunction" is a 30 second song that is abruptly interrupted by the voice of an announcer half way through that advises you to "Please fasten your seatbelt." The song ends with the same voice politely stating "Thank you." There are other instances of vocals on this instrumental CD, such as the numbers shouted in unison by the band in "Shadowy Countdown," or the spoken introduction to "You Spin Me Round '86." Neither of those compare to the fascinating vocals that are found on the last track, "Big Baby," where a narrator tells the story of monster treasure, playing a number of different characters all at once.
The most interesting aspect of the band for me has always been the lead surf guitar melodies. I've always been interested in the Surf genre, and this was the perfect CD to get me started. It comes from an entirely different mind set than the power chords of indie rock, rock 'n' roll, and punk that I'm used to hearing, and that refreshing change is always welcomed.
If you are looking for more songs you are familiar with, "Zombie Compromise" has been prominently featured in Taco Bell's "Think Outside the Bun" campaign and "Run Chicken Run" was used in the trailer to Kevin Smith's film, "Dogma." This might be a bit of a stretch, but the melody to "Egypt Texas" reminds me of the theme to "The Munsters" TV show for some reason.
After this release, the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet went on to release two more full length albums before they parted ways in 1995. But "Savvy Show Stoppers" has always been and always will be my favorite of their albums.
The band's guitarist, Brian Connelly, is still making music. In 2002, he co-wrote songs for Bruce McCulloch's CD, "Drunk Baby Project," which is dedicated to Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet's bassist, Reid Diamond, who sadly passed away from cancer in 2001.
- Good Cop Bad Cop (2:31)
- Musical Interlude (1:08)
- Theme From T.V. (1:26)
- Zombie Compromise (2:11)
- Malfunction (0:28)
- Shake Some Evil (2:50)
- You Spin Me Round '86 (2:08)
- Run Chicken Run (1:40)
- Bennett Cerf (1:36)
- Egypt Texas (2:29)
- Customized (2:22)
- Our Weapons Are Useless (2:32)
- Shadowy Countdown (0:47)
- Harlem By The Sea (1:54)
- Having An Average Weekend (Theme from Kids In The Hall) (3:58)
- Misty (1:15)
- Summer Wind (2:10)
- Big Baby (3:01)