Music Connection

Tyrants In Therapy Canter’s Kibitz Room / West Hollywood
by Dianne Bates

The Players: Abbe Kanter, vocals; Michael Jaye, vocals Material: Tyrants in Therapy is a husband/wife duo who sing to DAT recorded backing tracks. Mike and Abbe present an entertaining, intelligent, cabaret-style act that is as theatrical as it is musical. The 13-song set ran the gamut from the danceable “Boy” to the decadent waltz “In the Shadow of Hitler,” to the silly faux-country tune “Honky Tonk Train Blues.” The Tyrants’ songs are smartly humorous and often cynical. “Don’t Say Words Like That,” starts off as a list of off-color words which eventually morphs into rhymes like “Disneyland,” and “in my pants,” “George Bush,” and “kiss my tush.” Musicianship: Tyrants use competent guest musicians such as Bobby Robles of Thee Midniters to pre-record their musical accompaniment. Needless to say, their sets are very tightly paced. Abbe has a strong, more polished voice. Michael talk/sings in a style reminiscent of Lou Reed. Their voices harmonize well. Performance: All things French are explored during the Tyrants’ brisk set. The couple are both playful and antagonistic toward each other and they engage in live and recorded bantering. Many of their tunes are prefaced by weird interstitial bits and commentary which slyly mock such questionable icons as Barbara Streisand and Barry White. Abbe wears dark clothes and little make-up. Michael wears color and lipstick. Abbe’s slow, moody rendering of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna” (from the Beatles’ first album) is haunting and both the duo and their audience have fun with their playful version of the erotic, breast-heaving 1969 hit, “Je T’aime.” “Why are we speaking French?” Michael innocently asks Abbe. Duh, it’s a French song. The audience cracks up. Summary: While it is unlikely that Tyrants in Therapy will ever play stadiums, their material is appealing to those weary of formula hits. With comedy films dominating the market right now, directors would be well advised to place Tyrants in Therapy tunes, just as they would Randy Newman’s or Jonathan Richman’s work, into the sort of projects that are in need of this type of material.