“Meet the Tyrants in Therapy”
by Nick Bendel

Meet The Tyrants in Therapy (2000) by The Tyrants in Therapy (actually a duo of Michael Jaye and Abbe Kanter) is a fantastic work that takes you, to use the words of someone else, on a magical mystery tour. It is not an album, but a journey. A mixture of rock, pop, dance, punk, blues and cabaret- amongst others- it evokes sounds dating from the 1940s to the present and makes liberal use of samples. The subject matter- amongst others- includes suicide, human rights and cake, not to mention fascism, lesbianism and pedophilia. At 22 tracks long, with constantly changing scenery, it certainly is an ambitious project.

And, like many ambitious projects, it doesn’t always do what it sets out to achieve.

There is so much going on on this album that it was always going to be a difficult task to bring it all together into some sort of coherent unit.

One thing that the Tyrants certainly do demonstrate is an excellent sense of humour. There are many funny moments and the band doesn’t take itself too seriously. A good example is ‘In the Shadow of Hitler’ a cute little number with a mock 1940s sound. The song moves along nicely before suddenly introducing a spoken section, specifically Kanter in a mock German accent giving her account of the war: “ja, it was not the good time for everybody, but for those of us who were lucky enough to be born blond, ooh lah lah, fresh orchids every morning, lots of schnapps for everybody and plenty of shiny brass buttons, oh ja, and lots of heel clicking and goose stepping it was lots of fun, mmn, lots of men in uniform all over the Europe and too bad we didn’t get overseas, ah ha.”

A lot of the songs have such a humorous feel to them. One song that can be admired on its own rights, however, is the outstanding ‘Anna (Go to Him)’, an Arthur Alexander cover dating back some 40 years. It stands on its own as a piece of music, removed from all the gimmickry (both good and bad) which is otherwise pervasive.

Other good moments include the high energy ‘Them Kinda Monkeys Can’t Swing’ and, in a similar vein, a live version of ‘Honky Tonk Train Blues’. One gets the feeling that it would probably sound staid as a studio song; as a live performance it has an incredible vitality about it. A humorous reworking of the classic ‘Je T’Aime’ is also a highlight of Meet The Tyrants in Therapy.

Unfortunately, these good moments- and others unmentioned- are negated by quite a few poorer efforts. On an album of 22 tracks, some of them seem quite unnecessary. For instance there are two versions of the mysterious ‘Om Shanti Om’. Another obvious example is ‘Yer No Jack Kennedy’ a weak mixture of samples and synthesized beats that doesn’t work at all. In addition some tracks, when stripped of their novelty value, are not as strong as they could be.

However that is not a criticism whatsoever of the sense of innovation that The Tyrants demonstrate. In a world where so much music sounds so similar they are to be admired for going their own way, even if it doesn’t get them on MTV. This uniqueness makes this an album definitely worth listening to. Even if it isn’t all good, a lot of it is, and even the bad moments have a way of either entertaining you, or quickly evolving into something better.

RATING: 7/10