If controversy really does sell CDs, now is the time to be in th record business. Three of the most notorious acts in popular music are unleashing new albums today: Rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, the Dr. Dre cohort currently under indictment for murder; Beavis and Butt-head, the animated MTV twosome whose show has been blamed for everything from arson to the decline of Western Civilization; and Guns N' Roses, the riot-inciting hard rock act whose name has become synonymous with excess and destruction.
Are there any turkeys in this holiday releases? Will anyone other than record store owners be thankful for this bounty? Should parents simply lock up their children now? Here's how the terrifying trio shape up.
First the good news: Moral guardians nationwide will be pleased to learn that Beavis and Butt-head's debut album, "The Beavis and Butt-head Experience" (Geffen 24613), does not include the duo's version of "Light My Fire." Or "Ring of Fire." Or even "We Didn't Start the Fire."
Now the bad news: That's all the good news the guardians get. Because apart from the lack of fire songs, "The Beavis
and Butt-head Experience" is every bit as loud, low-brow and sex-obsessed as the show itself.
In other words, it's, like, totally cool.
Although the album's title alludes to the episode in which Butt-head, while loafing on the job at Burger World, fantasizes about taking his air-guitar act to the arena-rock level (Butt-head: "Duhnnn, DUHNNN, duhn duhn duh-dah." Girl in audience: "Ooh, Butt-head!"), most of the music here is performed by actual musicians with actual guitars. In fact, the line-up is not unlike what you'd find in an average "Beavis and Butt-head" episode, with songs by Anthrax, Nirvana, Primus, White Zombie, Run-D.M.C., Megadeth, Jackyl and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
That's not to say our boys don't get their licks in. The first thing we hear on "The Beavis and Butt-head Experience" is another air guitar performance -- and this one even features a solo by Beavis.
At least, I think it's a solo. Frankly, it sounds like a squirrel caught in a blender.
Mercifully, that's over quickly, and the boys don't get musical again until "Come to Butt-head." This is Butt-head's big Barry White number, a slow, soulful make-out tune in which our hero offers romantic blandishments in his best loverman murmur.
Will women swoon when they hear it? Yeah, right -- not unless their dream guy is some dork who starts giggling every time he talks about a girl's "thingies." But Butt-head does his darnedest to seem romantic, even promising that "I would, like, do homework and stuff. For your love."
That pales in comparison, however, to Cher's cameo with "I Got You Babe." It starts, typically enough, with Beavis and Butt-head complaining about their lack of female companionship. "We need a chick that used to be married to some dork, so now she's, like, all wild and stuff," says Butt-head, trying to imagine the sort of woman they could make time with. And it works -- by the end of the song, Cher is asking, "You feelin' lucky, Butt-head?"
"Uhhhh -- heh-heh-heh, heh-heh-heh," is the answer.
Cher's routine with the boys isn't the only guest-star comedy here. Because the album doesn't quite leave room for the caustic commentary Beavis and Butt-head provide when watching videos on the show, it makes up by having the boys meet a couple of bands. The best is a bit with Anthrax that's as believable as it is funny (though the jokes are largely unprintable). And Anthrax's cover of the Beastie Boys' "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun," which follows, only sweetens the experience.
Most of the other musical offerings are pretty much played straight. What we get is the full range of Beavis and Butt-head's tastes, from rap (Run-D.M.C.'s "Bounce") to hard rock (Megadeth's "99 Ways to Die"), to alternative (Nirvana's "I Hate Myself and Want to Die"), to hard rock (Aerosmith's "Deuces Are Wild"), back to rap (Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Monsta Mack"), to alternative that sounds like hard rock (the Red Hot Chili Peppers' remake of the Stooges' "Search and Destroy"), to, uh, hard rock (White Zombie's "I am Hell").
All are new tracks, though only one -- Primus' marvelously moronic "Poetry and Prose" -- sounds like it was written expressly for the album. Still, none are out-and-out throwaways (except maybe for Nirvana's "I Hate Myself," which has "B-side" written all over it), and a few actually rank among these bands' better work. Run-D.M.C.'s "Bounce," for instance, is a stronger single than anything since "Down with the King," while "99 Ways ZTC to Die" is easily the catchiest thing Megadeth has ever recorded.
And should you think the album is little more than vulgar humor and cheap titillation, well . . . OK, it pretty much is. But we do get a brief philosophy lesson, in which Beavis wonders why things suck, so Butt-head smacks him.
"That was cool," laughs Butt-head.
"No it wasn't," says Beavis. "That sucked."
"Yeah, but, like, you know, after it's over?" counters Butt-head. "Doesn't it, like, feel pretty cool?"
"Yeah, yeah. Yeah."
"See," continues professor Butt-head, "it's like, you need stuff that sucks to have stuff that's cool."
And that, dear readers, is why the world includes Michael Bolton albums as well as "The Beavis and Butt-head Experience."
A TRIO OF TUNES
You can hear excerpts from each of these releases on Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service.
You will need a touch-tone phone. Call (410) 783-1800, or from Anne Arundel County, (410) 268-7736.
* To hear excerpts from "The Spaghetti Incident?," the fifth album from Guns N' Roses featuring punk-era cover tunes, push 6004.
* To hear excerpts from "Doggy Style," the much-anticipated debut of rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, push 6187.
* To hear excerpts from "The Beavis and Butt-head Experience," the first album from MTV's dynamic cartoon duo with guest appearances by Nirvana, Anthrax, Megadeth, Cher, Run-D.M.C., push 6110.