(Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

October 19, 1998

-- Music Review --

Another bee in Giant's bonnet

The Tattoo

Okay, so maybe all the songs on They Might Be
Giants' latest release, "Severe Tire Damage,"
aren't exactly new, but they are live, and
that's what fans were asking for. Yes, folks,
John Flansburgh and John Linnell (the lively duo
that make up the group) have finally given the
fans what they've been asking for -- a live

"Severe Tire Damage" is a mixture of all the
favorite older songs on their previous albums,
only live this time. Even though the familiar
cuts are all songs their somewhat fanatical fans
know by heart, the duo still managed to keep
from sounding like one of those "Best of" albums
that never live up to expectations.

Some of the songs include a rocking version of
"Why Does the Sun Shine?," a slow tuba-filled
rendition of "She's An Angel," and even "They
Got Lost," an autobiographical account of all
the times the band has gotten lost on the way to
a show.

Although "Severe Tire Damage" consists of
primarily live versions of previously released
songs, it also has a few new songs for us to

The first single, "Dr. Worm," is a studio
version of a lively little ditty that has Giant
fans going nuts. Driven by an astounding horn
section, you could end up with this song stuck
in your head for the rest of your life after
hearing it only once.

Another new song on the record, "First Kiss," is
a catchy number that will leave your foot
tapping. Although relatively short in size, it's
another They Might Be Giants legend in the

In addition to the 15 regular (now, just keep in
mind that regular for TMBG is a little different
than regular for, say, a less ... uh ...
creative band), the album contains the "Severe
Tire Damage Theme," a short little blurb that
sounds as if it belongs on a cartoon show.

People who invest their hard-earned cash into
purchasing their copy of "Severe Tire Damage"
also get seven -- count 'em SEVEN -- hidden
"Planet of the Apes" tracks.

All in all, They Might Be Giants rings true to
its history of clever lyrics and interesting

In a time when their popularity is spreading
fast, the Johns still remember the importance of
having fun while recording and performing.

Their creativity is displayed in "Meet James
Ensor," which the band chose to do without any
instruments, including the guitar.

So what do you do when a guitar solo is featured
in a song that you aren't using instruments
with? Why, you sing it ... or at least that's
what They Might Be Giants does.

As an avid They Might Be Giants fan, I give
"Severe Tire Damage" two enthusiastic thumbs up
AND four stars, although I wouldn't recommend it
for first time TMBG-ers.

It may be a little too odd for them to handle.