Wouldn't it be nice if rock 'n' rollers could go out with near-perfect performances?
Elvis will always be remembered in his white, flaired-legged jumpsuit doing Las Vegas (and the rest of the world, according to the tabloids); Jim Morrison's still in his lukewarm Paris bathtub, and Jimi Hendrix is embarrassingly succumbing during a messy overdose.As for the more modern rock scene, Kurt Cobain is faceless and Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon) is in the back of a bus with a needle in his arm.
Oingo Boingo, on the other hand, goes out with a blast - and I don't mean with a shotgun.
The band's latest (and final) album, "Farewell: Live from the Universal Amphitheatre - Halloween 1995," brings a haunting, energetic end to a unique, if not peculiar, and very popular band.
Recorded during a five-night marathon in Los Angeles (the city where it all began), "Farewell . . ." is a 30-song, two-CD live collection that takes listeners on a pivoting pendulum of Boingosongs that span the band's career.
And unlike most live albums that feature highlights of a show or are just released to fulfill a contract commitment, "Farewell . . ." really sets a live concert mood. Turn it up loud enough and you've got the band jamming in your living room.
Opening with the psychopathic "Insanity" and ending with the frantic and quirky dynamics of "Only a Lad," "Farewell . . ." plays it as it was with no audible overdubs. And as band leader Danny Elfman would have it, every cut is shot through with warped, contagious energy.
"Little Girls," "Helpless," "Cinderella Undercover," "Change," "Hey!" and the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" spit energy and sweat. Early-career cuts such as "I'm So Bad" and "Ain't This the Life" are combined with such later gems as "Burn Me Up" and "Piggies."
The band's breakthrough, "Dead Man's Party," with its haunting chant, and the accordion fest of "We Close Our Eyes" are also in the set list.
But don't expect to find any Boingo tunes that hit the Top 100. "Weird Science" and even "Just Another Day" were left off. Hey, it's Elfman's band, he can do anything he wants with it.
Anyway, the album is glorious, spooky and at the same time nostalgic. Whether the band is cranking out the acoustic "Mary" or raging on "Who Do You Want to Be Today," images of Day-Glo-speckled paper mache' skeletons and voodoo-glow skulls flash through the mind.
Farewell, Oingo Boingo. Your music will live . . . forever.
RATINGS: four stars (* * * * ), excellent; three stars (* * * ), good; two stars (* * ), fair; one star (* ), poor, with 1/2 representing a higher, intermediate grade.