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Pop - Released February 3, 1991 | Geffen

A gothic, experimental band that utilized a simple blend of R&B and new wave, Oingo Boingo was quite an innovative force in the eight or so years covered on Best O' Boingo. Few bands can claim such a unique spot in the annals of pop music, but thanks to the visionary songs from lead singer Danny Elfman, Oingo Boingo often transcended the limitations of whatever genre they chose to take on. Picking up after their highly bizarre new wave years, this retrospective emphasizes their poppy, mainstream work, starting with their morbid good-times anthem "Dead Man's Party." Perhaps the best song in their catalog, the track utilizes every likable aspect of their sound, from the intense horn work and start-and-stop rhythms to Elfman's endearingly nasally yelp and impressive compositional skills. Other highlights include the Talking Heads-influenced "Not My Slave," the eerie Eastern-flavored "Sweat," and the campy creep-out anthem "No One Lives Forever." Without access to the material from Boingo's years on A&M Records, the album does feel a bit padded, especially when material from the bland Boi-ngo gets so much play. But with so many great Elfman songs in one place, it's hard to argue with the amount of quality new wave that makes it onto the record. Besides, 1999's Anthology underrated this period in their career, making Best O' Boingo the premiere sampler of their pop-oriented years. © Bradley Torreano /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Geffen*

Returning after a two-year recording hiatus (during which bandleader Danny Elfman recorded a solo album), Oingo Boingo forsook the excesses of smart-aleck humor and quirky production that had led critics almost universally to dismiss the band's first four albums. The sound is still maybe just a bit too uptight and over-determined, but the horn charts are more focused and sophisticated, and Elfman has matured considerably as a lyricist. Alongside such typically oddball fare as the title track and a surprise hit song called "Weird Science" are the faintly paranoid "Just Another Day" and the frankly romantic "Stay," as well as a glorious Motown tribute called "Help Me." But "Weird Science" is what really brings things to a close with a bang -- though it reverts somewhat to the band's earlier indulgence in wacka-wacka sound effects and willfully crazy production technique, it's also one of Boingo's most satisfying pop songs ever. Overall, this is perhaps the first Oingo Boingo album to hang together really well as a whole. Recommended. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 19, 1981 | A&M

Only a Lad introduced the world to a man who would later become one of its most recognizable popular composers. Danny Elfman, later to write the score for The Simpsons as well as countless movie soundtracks, formed Oingo Boingo in 1977, but it wasn't until Only a Lad's 1981 release that they achieved national recognition. Only a Lad contains obvious new wave elements, but it doesn't stick to any one style long, undulating over a vast musical terrain. Ska, new wave, classical, heavy metal -- they all make at least cameo appearances. The band's musicianship, even at this relatively early stage, far exceeds most of their peers, and Elfman's deft songwriting ability offers a clear glimpse of what was to come. Elfman's voice fits perfectly within an '80s context, but otherwise, the album sounds far ahead of its time. As such, it should come as no surprise the album had more influence on musicians and artists than on the charts. It's probably a good thing that this particular Oingo Boingo collection never reached too high a level of prominence, though, because the lyrical content of Only a Lad could have landed them in serious hot water. Although never vulgar, the album brazenly shuffles through taboos without compunction, writing from a pedophile's point of view in "Little Girls," not-so-clandestinely discussing masturbation in "Nasty Habits," and generally adopting a socially whimsical and irreverent attitude. The lone track not written by Elfman is a stellar tribute to the Kinks' classic cut "You Really Got Me." Later cited as an influence by such diverse bands as Nirvana, Mr. Bungle, and Fishbone, this album stands up well to the test of multiple listens and would make a worthwhile addition to any album collection. © Kieran McCarthy /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1990 | Geffen

Danny Elfman, lead singer of Oingo Boingo, knows how to make great music. With his penetrating charisma he can pull many a song through in his own wacky direction and style, making it equally dark and fun. Dark at the End of the Tunnel seems misguided, as though Elfman has lost sense of the music he is "meant" to make, or maybe he had been dabbling in too many musical scores at the time to keep track (he was gaining momentum as a darn good film scorer with hits like Batman and Edward Scissorhands). There are only moments here and there that will remind you of the madman's laugh riot Oingo Boingo used to be. That would be fine, except that the remaining songs are bland and dispirited. Elfman takes a shot at pure pop on "Try to Believe," which is uniquely positive and emotional: Who knew he had it in him? He spreads those hidden wings of emotion even further on the mercifully tender and comforting "Out of Control," which is about as close to a lullaby as you are likely to hear from this group. What a wonderful idea it would have been to use one of the most artistic and clever singer/lyricists of the 90s and his inspired band to create an entire album of pop and ballads. What might be a selling of pride for Elfman could have been a huge benefit to the world of pop with his distinct voice and ability. He gives us a taste of what could have been, along with "Flesh and Blood," a tantalizing blend of vocals and rhythmic mischief that make the album glow, however briefly. © Peter Fawthrop /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1982 | A&M

Though Nothing to Fear is by no means Oingo Boingo's best album, it is certainly not as bad as many near-sighted critics have asserted. Elfman's songwriting, even when he's not firing on all cylinders, still blows the hinges off most of his peers on their best days. It is true that many songs on this go-around lack the smooth transitions that characterize Only a Lad, but the intricately woven, complex song structures do well to sustain Elfman's erratic mood swings. The album begins strongly, with Boingo's trademark bells and synth on "Grey Matter" and then switches gears with an abrupt slap-bass progression on "Insects." "Private Life" brings it all together, oozing forth elaborate instrumentation and rich songwriting. If you can humor Elfman when he gets too excited by his own proselytizing with songs like "Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself," and you give the album a few listens, you'll recognize it's a vastly underrated sophomore effort. © Kieran McCarthy /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 26, 1983 | A&M

Not as highly regarded as Only a Lad or Dead Man's Party, Good for Your Soul may have been underrated in the Boingo canon. While there are moments where Elfman and company are straining a little ("Wake Up (It's 1984)"), there are other moments where the band is in full flight and at the top of their form -- "What Do You Want to Be?" gets the album off to a roaring start, "Cry of the Vatos" is a very warped anthem, and "No Spill Blood," inspired by George Orwell's Animal Farm, is a chilling, thundering commentary... © Steven McDonald /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1988 | Geffen*

Not quite a greatest-hits album and not quite a live album, Oingo Boingo celebrates not quite a decade of existence with the peculiar double album Boingo Alive. Elfman and bandmates re-record two dozen tracks from Boingo's prodigious canon in no particular order, and sweeten the deal by tossing in a few freshly penned numbers. The thrust of the package, as is hinted in the title, is to show off the L.A. band's sharpened agility as a live act, but eschewing the live setting. Each song was meticulously rehearsed and finally recorded "live" in-studio. Thanks to some subtle post-production, however, the final product's sound quality bears striking resemblance to that of the band's previous few studio records, leaving the band's feat, and a large point of the package, audibly undetectable. A few songs show inspired reinterpretations. The Alive recording of "Dead Man's Party" would become the new single version of the song, and rightfully so. The Willie Dixon cover "Violent Love" and "Goodbye Goodbye" were always fan favorites, but never worked their way onto an album. Here, Elfman and company rework the tempos and beef up the horn arrangements, actually improving upon the originals measurably. Tunes from their earlier era don't benefit from this revisionist tinkering, sadly. What made the original recordings of songs like "Only a Lad" and "Grey Matter" so unique and catchy are largely lost. The new wave effervescence is gone. The band's hyper-kinesis, the alien synth riffs, and Elfman's manic yelp have been smoothed over, erasing much of the songs' quirky appeal. Ultimately, Boingo Alive will please established fans of the group, even though they undoubtedly have the original versions of the majority of these songs. New material like "Cinderella Undercover" and "Mama" stacks up favorably against the recognized tunes, and there's nothing anywhere not to like, really. Newbies are better advised to check out Anthology or either of the two single-disc compilations. © Christian Huey /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 24, 2002 | Geffen

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Oingo Boingo gathers 11 of Danny Elfman's quirky new wave group's definitive tracks, including "Weird Science," "Dead Man's Party," "Wild Sex (In the Working Class)," and "Just Another Day." The band's busy, bouncy sound is also exemplified by "Grey Matter," "Only a Lad," and "Just Another Day," all of which can be found on the more complete Anthology. However, this collection contains enough of their hits and different periods in their career to make it worthwhile for casual listeners. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 16, 1996 | A&M

The final performance of Oingo Boingo was captured on Farewell: Live from the Universal Ampitheatre on Halloween 1995. A two-volume VHS recording accompanies the two-CD set. Oingo Boingo agent provocateur Danny Elfman is an adroit, singular, and quirky songwriter. For sheer entertainment, the Oingo Boingo repertoire earns high marks. This CD and VHS set documents the final performance of the band -- Oingo Boingo's Halloween shows had become an institution, and this swan song is also their first live album. Finally, listeners and viewers are invited into this secret society. All the original material is written by Elfman and proves itself insightful and at times unforgettably quirky. Like the best groups, they provide uninterrupted entertainment with a mental package to take with you. There are 30 tracks on the two CDs -- these are all translated to the videos, with the addition of a half hour of "documentary and retrospective footage" and videos for "Little Girls" and "Insanity." This archival footage goes from goofy cacophonous theater to intriguing Oingo Boingo operas, proving the group's status as a great and underrated band. © Tom Schulte /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 13, 1994 | Giant

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Rock - Released January 1, 1987 | Geffen

Oingo Boingo have shortened their name to the more direct "Boingo," but their music hasn't changed. It remains the warped, party-friendly dance music that it always has been, only with fewer memorable meloidies, jokes, or hooks. Boingo will satisfy some devoted fans, but most will want to stick with the greatest hits collection. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1982 | A&M

Hi-Res
Though Nothing to Fear is by no means Oingo Boingo's best album, it is certainly not as bad as many near-sighted critics have asserted. Elfman's songwriting, even when he's not firing on all cylinders, still blows the hinges off most of his peers on their best days. It is true that many songs on this go-around lack the smooth transitions that characterize Only a Lad, but the intricately woven, complex song structures do well to sustain Elfman's erratic mood swings. The album begins strongly, with Boingo's trademark bells and synth on "Grey Matter" and then switches gears with an abrupt slap-bass progression on "Insects." "Private Life" brings it all together, oozing forth elaborate instrumentation and rich songwriting. If you can humor Elfman when he gets too excited by his own proselytizing with songs like "Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself," and you give the album a few listens, you'll recognize it's a vastly underrated sophomore effort. © Kieran McCarthy /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 10, 1989 | A&M

Even for a career spanning over a decade, three Oingo Boingo greatest-hits albums seem a little far-fetched. Each one contains a good sample of some of their best songs, ranging from early new wave days to pop and rock, all in their twisted tongue-in-cheek style. The reasoning behind the triple deal is that their earlier albums were distributed by A&M records while their later releases were owned by MCA. Skeletons in the Closet is the A&M collection, filled with rambunctious, madcap fun and perversion dabbling. Misfits and punk lovers will cling to this music; conservative parents who hear "Nasty Habits" will rebuke it. These are some of their wildest goods, including "Insects," which make the band and the listener "want to dance," "Only a Lad," the anthem for a boy who has been molded by society to cause havoc and eventually shoot someone in the leg, and an edited version of "Private Life." If you have to choose between Skeletons in the Closet or the MCA collection titled Best of Boingo, choose neither. The merging of Universal and Polygram allowed the company to overtake the old master tapes and release a comprehensive collection in 1999 called Anthology, a two-disc set that is the only way to go for anyone interested in singer Danny Elfman's joyfully wicked little band that had great fun helping out the degenerating of a generation. © Peter Fawthrop /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 24, 2002 | Geffen*

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Oingo Boingo gathers 11 of Danny Elfman's quirky new wave group's definitive tracks, including "Weird Science," "Dead Man's Party," "Wild Sex (In the Working Class)," and "Just Another Day." The band's busy, bouncy sound is also exemplified by "Grey Matter," "Only a Lad," and "Just Another Day," all of which can be found on the more complete Anthology. However, this collection contains enough of their hits and different periods in their career to make it worthwhile for casual listeners. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1980 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1980 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1980 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1984 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1980 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1984 | Capitol Records