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Oingo Boingo

Crossover Prog

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Oingo Boingo Only A Lad album cover
4.31 | 13 ratings | 2 reviews | 31% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Little Girls (3:43)
2. Perfect System (3:46)
3. On The Outside (3:51)
4. Capitalism (3:40)
5. You Really Got Me (4:37)
6. Only A Lad (3:57)
7. What You See (3:55)
8. Controller (3:26)
9. Imposter (3:00)
10. Nasty Habits (4:08)

Total Time 38:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Danny Elfman / vocals, guitar
- Steve Bartek / guitars
- Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez / drums
- Richard Gibbs / keyboards
- Kerry Hatch / bass, vocals
- Leon Schniederman / baritone sax
- Sam "Sluggo" Phipps / tenor sax
- Dale Turner / trumpet

Releases information

1981 LP A&M SP 4963
1987 CD A&M CD 3250

Thanks to Evolver for the addition
and to Evolver for the last updates
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OINGO BOINGO Only A Lad ratings distribution

(13 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

OINGO BOINGO Only A Lad reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Pretty red roses

Wet puppy noses

Men with rubber hoses is more like it

Oingo Boingo is in the ProgArchives? I'm happy to say it is so. With this, the first full album by this band, fronted by Danny Elfman (now more famous for his work on The Simpsons, just about every Tim Burton movie, and and an endless number of other films and TV shows), shows why they belong here.

Evolving out of a circus theater group called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, this band began it's recording career playing an energetic mix of new wave, ska and punk. But the theater sound permeates the sound. The horns are brash and very unusual. They pepper the music by often playing circus type themes around the uptempo beats. And the rhythms can be odd as well. Elfman often adds and subtracts beats from measures of songs, giving his poop style more of an underlying prog feel.

The music, while often bouncy and dancable, is full of darkness as well. Elfman, with the help of guitarist Steve Bartek (who continues to work with Elfman on film music), often uses odd chord structures to keep the sound just a little off kilter, which is fitting, as his lyrics usually explore the underside of contemporary society.

Perversion, death, alienation, are just a few of the subjects sung about on the album. The most overtly progressive song on the album, Nasty Habits, is an ode to what goes on behind closed doors. Elfman joyously sings of the behaviors that people may want to keep to themselves, while the band keeps up a three ring circus of melodious deviance.

And this isn't even their best album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars After taking the reigns from his brother Richard Elfman who decided to move on from his musical vision, a young Danny Elfman steered the then named "The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo" (a fictional secret society on the TV series "Amos 'n' Andy") to a more new wave pop oriented rock band and thus shortening the name to the more famous OINGO BOINGO. After gaining significant attention with a demo that became their first EP, the band created a full-fledged album that emerged in 1981. ONLY A LAD is the final step in shifting the band's previous incarnation of a theatrical cabaret band into an 80s progressively minded new wave meets ska entity that even to this day sounds as good as the first time I heard this little sucka.

OINGO BOINGO simply put occupies a musical niche like no other. Danny Elfman's brilliance is on full display here signifying a major talent emerging into the world but unlike the more controlled efforts of future releases, this release shows an Elfman unrestrained and out to prove himself. That he does and quite well may I add. What we have here is an energy conducive with the circus cabaret scene married with a newly found ska fetish mixed with new wave. The songwriting on this debut album is spectacular combining all of the aforementioned with progressive soundtrack elements that really make this an exciting album. Dealing with dark and perversely themed topics that decorate the progressively composed time signatures and catchy melodies really adds up to an addictive sound. Danny tops it off with some extremely energetically wailed vocals that dominate the soundscape.

I really love every track on this debut album. OINGO BOINGO came from nowhere and although they may bring other new wavers like Devo to mind, the fact is OINGO BOINGO was much more sophisticated and elaborate in their sound and songwriting. They were an octet at this point and on top of the new wave beat, rhythms and instrumentation lies a formidable horn section. Some of my absolute favorite BOINGO tracks are on this debut release. I am googoo gaagaa over "Little Girls," "Perfect World," "On The Outside," the title track, "Controller," "Nasty Habits" and perhaps the best Kinks cover i've heard in "You Really Got Me" (Sorry Van Halen). A very strong debut with more Boingolisciousness to come on many future releases but this one remains one of my absolute faves. 4.5 rounded up

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