Music Review: Marx and Lenin Meet the Beach Boys on Red Shadow’s ‘Live at the Panacea Hilton’

Red Shadow's Live at the Panacea Hilton

And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different: Live at the Panacea Hilton, an album from Red Shadow that, with both conviction and humor, accomplishes the refreshingly original task of melding Marxist-Leninist lyrics to familiar rock melodies. In “Gone, Gone, Gone,” for example, the group deftly uses the Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” to sing not about a girl and her T-bird but about corporate kingpins who’ll be “gone, gone, gone when the workers take their power away.” Other titles include “Anything Good,” a parody of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Understanding Marx,” which incorporates a trio of sharply honed monologues.

Largely because the record is so disarmingly funny and so cleverly put together, it transcends its cheapo production and manages to be provocative without ever sounding like propaganda. I’ve played my copy for several dozen people, many of whom often disagree on musical matters, and everyone but my mother wanted to order a copy by the end of the first side.

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