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Failed frozen-waffle jingle leads to year's best 51-song album

Some of the efforts cited above have been faulted for being merely fragmentary, the missed opportunities of the too lazy to finish. But DJs, sampling technicians, and other postmodernists have proven that many songs are best reduced to fragments. In the post-sampling era, it's perhaps surprising that more songwriters haven't explored beginning with the condensed version--especially those visited often by pleasant little tunes. Gripp seems to be the sort of person for whom writing logical, unassuming melodies is not much more difficult than separating plastic from glass before setting out the recycling. (Not that all these tunes are throwaways--the melodies found in "Life's Too Short" [to miss out on a big sale] and "You Need Our Cold Medicine" could surely support more ambitious songs.) These songs were clearly written and recorded quickly, with whatever was at hand, which is part of what gives the album its energy. When a "new" melody doesn't show its face, Gripp steals one, either in the interest of parodic tribute or apropos of nothing, as on "One Donut a Day," which takes its bridge from "Singing in the Rain."

The utilitarian argument against comedy records is that, like food and most suspense novels, they are poor multiple-use items. Perhaps. I'm trying not to oversell this record. Let it be clear that it is sometimes cringe-coaxingly stupid--part of its power--and that those intolerant of goofiness and uninterested in hearing what is now the second-best Styx song of all time ("Drinkin' [on] a Beer with My Lady") should give it a wide berth. I'm convinced that the pleasures to be found on For Those About to Shop are more than ephemeral, but surely they're periodic. Having binged on the record for a few weeks, I'm about ready to retire it for a few months. Still, For Those About to Shop is an inspired piece of work. ("Renegade," by the way, is the best Styx song of all time.) It is in fact giddy with inspiration, the outpourings of a songwriter proudly oblivious to his medium's typical productivity drains--My song must be meaningful, genuine, original, affecting, etc., but if it is none of those things, it should at least last longer than two minutes. Hard to say why that obliviousness worked. I have not spent much time with the Nerf Herder oeuvre on the grounds that what I have heard seemed juvenile and pointless, and now I'm smitten with their leader's solo debut on the grounds that it is juvenile and pointless and wonderful. An argument against retirement, perhaps. His retirement, that is.

The world's most gifted uncompensated pitchman? Parry Gripp in action
Courtesy of Parry Gripp
The world's most gifted uncompensated pitchman? Parry Gripp in action

And now I must go. Strangely, I have a hankering for dip-appropriate frozen waffles.

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