February 2003

The Fabulous Bud E. Luv - Diary of a Loungeman
Oglio 89132
Released: 2002

by David J. Cantor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Good satire is very difficult to pull off. In addition to wittily lampooning the object of humor, you’ve got to come up with your own high-quality product, with respect for the work being satirized informing the impulse to satirize. The Fabulous Bud E. Luv pulls it off with great command on Diary of a Loungeman. Mikey Luv and Markey Luv, who Bud E. says are "no relation" and "were, literally, instrumental" in helping him create "these arrangements and the resulting fabulousness that is this album," provide skilled backup. And they really do a lot more: Swirling all around Bud E.’s mock-croon, their arrangements fashion a musical world in which Ozzy Osbourne tunes, from Black Sabbath and later, take their oh-so-cute-and-cushy place as lounge hits.

Many laughs are to be had by all -- as Bud E. might say -- with such corny tributes to popular songs as keyboard references to the guitar riff from The Monkees’ "Last Train to Clarksville" throughout a cha-cha rendition of "Crazy Train" and an imitation of Jim Morrison’s peculiar square-dance call in "Runnin’ Blue" popping in at the end of a banjo-picked "Mama I’m Coming Home." But the peppiest of the peppy, "Paranoid" -- done to a swing beat, of course -- might take the prize for perfectly integrating all of its components. Luv’s genius blossoms here as he laments, "People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time," and ultimately advises his deeply moved, sympathetic, trusting, and admiring audience, "And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state/I tell you to enjoy life -- I wish I could, but it’s too late." And this only-ever Black Sabbath Top Twenty single, done Bud E.-style, even features one of those clichéd, semi-whispered "YEAH!" endings.

The contrast between the dark and sometimes cutting lyrics, denuded of their very heavy-metal original arrangements, and the light, smooth, fun yet rhythmic and catchy costumes in which Bud E. Luv re-dresses them is of course the source of the CD’s basic humor. Some minor chuckles come from recognizing how Bud E.’s singing sounds now like Sammy Davis, Jr., now like Elton John, now like some other arbitrarily imitated smoothie. But much of the album’s considerable success arises from the excellent music that results from this bizarre treatment of songs familiar even if you did not cut your teeth or rust your brain on heavy metal. These 15 tracks are delightful to hear.

Whether or not a devout metal fan will agree will depend on the extent to which she or he appreciates other genres and the satirical mode. Not a big metal listener myself, but appreciative of some of the Osbourne classics, I like the CD a lot. I find Bud E., Mikey, and Markey Luv a talented band. They follow through with precision on every clever, musical detail, yet they keep the tracks clean and succinct, belaboring nothing, which enables the disc to transcend the merely whimsical. It is a musical feat, a rare treat, a disc that’s hard to beat.