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The Flying Lizards|The Flying Lizards

The Flying Lizards

The Flying Lizards

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In the late 1970s, composer and producer David Cunningham was savvy enough to cloak his experimental music in the disguise of a novelty record, at least for a while; his fractured deconstructions of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and Barrett Strong's "Money," released under the moniker the Flying Lizards, managed to inch into the pop charts because folks thought they were some sort of musical joke, even though Cunningham's wit didn't negate the seriousness of his musical ambitions. After the international success of "Money," Virgin Records wanted a Flying Lizards album to go along with it, and the resulting LP was where Cunningham's cred as an artist ran up against his instincts as a pop satirist. The principle reason "Money" became a left-field hit was that even though the song had been bent within an inch of its life, it still had a catchy hook and, if you wanted to, you could dance to it. That can't honestly be said for the new material Cunningham and his associates put together for the album; except for Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill's "Der Song von Mandelay," which doesn't have an honestly memorable hook, the new tracks are all originals and they're informed by the space and anything-goes vibe of dub instead of radio-ready pop, and while they're intelligent and well-executed, they're not especially compelling. Through the soundscapes that dominate the second half of this album are more interesting to talk about than to hear, at least they're better than the vocal tracks closer to the beginning, which sound both pretentious and musically flawed. The Flying Lizards' first album unwittingly followed one of the greatest traditions of '50s and '60s pop -- take a hit single, surround it with a whole bunch of filler less interesting than the hit, and presto! You have an album. Too bad Cunningham didn't prove to have as much vision as, say, Count Five or the Royal Guardsmen, who did better with the quickie album concept than he did.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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The Flying Lizards

The Flying Lizards

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1
Mandelay Song
00:02:28

Kurt Weill, Composer - Brecht, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - Bertolt, Composer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

2
Her Story
00:04:42

Strike, Composer - Solomon, Composer - Goldman, Composer - David Cunningham, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - General, Composer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

3
TV
00:04:01

John Cunningham, Composer - Strike, Composer - Solomon, Composer - David Cunningham, Producer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - General, Composer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

4
Russia
00:06:37

David Cunningham, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

5
Summertime Blues
00:03:33

Eddie Cochran, Composer - David Cunningham, Producer - Jerry Capehart, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1978 Virgin Records Limited

6
Money
00:05:38

Berry Gordy Jr., ComposerLyricist - Janie Bradford, ComposerLyricist - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records Ltd.

7
The Flood
00:05:11

David Cunningham, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

8
Trouble
00:02:46

John Cunningham, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

9
Events During The Flood
00:03:29

David Cunningham, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

10
The Window
00:05:33

Goldman, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

11
All Guitars
00:02:40

The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - D Cunningham, Composer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1978 Virgin Records Limited

12
Money (12'' Version)
00:06:06

Berry Gordy Jr., ComposerLyricist - Janie Bradford, ComposerLyricist - Don Covay, ComposerLyricist - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

13
Money (Edit)
00:02:33

Berry Gordy Jr., ComposerLyricist - Janie Bradford, ComposerLyricist - David Cunningham, Producer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - Deborah Evans-Stickland, Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

14
Money B
00:04:09

Berry Gordy Jr., Composer - Janie Bradford, Composer - David Cunningham, Producer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

15
Summertime Blues (12'' Version)
00:05:09

Eddie Cochran, ComposerLyricist - Jerry Capehart, ComposerLyricist - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1979 Virgin Records Limited

16
Tube
00:05:05

John Cunningham, Composer - Strike, Composer - Solomon, Composer - The Flying Lizards, MainArtist - General, Composer

(C) 1980 Virgin Records Ltd This label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. (C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 1980 Virgin Records Limited

Album Description

In the late 1970s, composer and producer David Cunningham was savvy enough to cloak his experimental music in the disguise of a novelty record, at least for a while; his fractured deconstructions of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and Barrett Strong's "Money," released under the moniker the Flying Lizards, managed to inch into the pop charts because folks thought they were some sort of musical joke, even though Cunningham's wit didn't negate the seriousness of his musical ambitions. After the international success of "Money," Virgin Records wanted a Flying Lizards album to go along with it, and the resulting LP was where Cunningham's cred as an artist ran up against his instincts as a pop satirist. The principle reason "Money" became a left-field hit was that even though the song had been bent within an inch of its life, it still had a catchy hook and, if you wanted to, you could dance to it. That can't honestly be said for the new material Cunningham and his associates put together for the album; except for Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill's "Der Song von Mandelay," which doesn't have an honestly memorable hook, the new tracks are all originals and they're informed by the space and anything-goes vibe of dub instead of radio-ready pop, and while they're intelligent and well-executed, they're not especially compelling. Through the soundscapes that dominate the second half of this album are more interesting to talk about than to hear, at least they're better than the vocal tracks closer to the beginning, which sound both pretentious and musically flawed. The Flying Lizards' first album unwittingly followed one of the greatest traditions of '50s and '60s pop -- take a hit single, surround it with a whole bunch of filler less interesting than the hit, and presto! You have an album. Too bad Cunningham didn't prove to have as much vision as, say, Count Five or the Royal Guardsmen, who did better with the quickie album concept than he did.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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