The title track is a 20-minute long musical manifesto on race, conformity and (pre-internet) mass culture. It opens cinematically in a cotton field and travels through a series of feels and styles (an African hoedown, an acapella choral tongue-twister, a Fred Frith-like metrical breakdown) each transforming seamlessly into the next. It culminates at a stand-up comedy club in a diatribe on “skin colored” Band-Aids, the origin of Valley Girls, the supposed twenty-seven Eskimo words for snow (“snow, snow, snow, snow”) and “why when you move and go to a new elementary school, all the kids look the same at first.” Along the way, Woodbury, backed up two female singers and a highly percussive score of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, saxophones and violin, makes reference to Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron & Steve Reich’s “Come Out.”
The CD continues with songs that evolved from a theater piece, “Harangue.” The theme seems to be the inadequacy of economics as an explanation for human endeavor.
It features a fake opera recitative (“I can tell the time of day”); poly-metric rap (“I’m Just the Kind of Guy That I Like”); the haunting/ridiculous aria “The Birds Don’t Owe” (“The bell can’t owe its ding-dong”); Schumann-esque choral music (“Our Sin”); exquisite industrial noise (“The Work Ethic”) and show biz Gospel (“Who Says?”).
History of the LP: The title cut and “I’m Just the Kind of Guy” received extensive airplay on college stations in 1988-1990, making several best-of lists. Subsequently, the title cut “All White People Look Alike” curiously ended up as side 4 of a Jane’s Addiction bootleg double LP. Somehow the rumor arose that the song was what got Jane’s Addiction signed to Warner Brothers; and further, that the representatives who signed Jane's Addiction thought they were more like the band They Might Be Giants. With this release, we can at last set the record straight.
Note: The original “Harangue” side contained “My Favorite Things,” a mash-up duet of John Coltrane & Julie Andrews. The rights to the original recordings were unobtainable, so, alas, it is not included on here or on the CD.
released November 1, 1987
all music and lyrics C 1987 Some Philharmonic Music, BMI
& P 2004 Some Phil Records
Cover painting by Barnaby Levy from original LP cover, hand-screened by Barnaby Levy & Linda Winters, with David Jurist. park photo by Elma Mayer, umbrella photo by John Grau. CD design Hedi El Kholti.
"All White People Look Alike" was originally performed in 1985 at Studio Eremos (Project Artaud), San Francisco. "Harangue" was first performed in 1986 at New Langston Arts, San Francisco
Many thanks to Doug Salot
all rights reserved