A Heartfelt Fan Review of "It's About Time"

by Antonio Mazzaro


Throughout the annals of music history, there exists a small score of seminal albums. These albums, The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", Paul Simon's "Graceland", Harry Belafonte's "Belafonte At Carnegie Hall", The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds", Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks" to name but a few, act as "Mile Markers" on the highway of musical legend.

The Cincinnati Dancing Pigs' "It's About Time" is not one of these albums.
However, there exists another group of albums which could be deemed "Half-Mile Markers", such as Weird Al Yankovic's "In 3-D", Eddie Murphy's Vocal Classic "How Could It Be", Deion Sanders' "Prime Time", Jim Nabors' "Jim Nabors Christmas" and William Shatner's "Transformed Man". While The Cincinnati Dancing Pigs' "It's About Time" is also not one of these albums, it's close.

So, then, let it be known that the highway of musical legend welcomes it's newest "Quarter-Mile Marker", The Cincinnati Dancing Pigs' "It's About Time." Save the above two paragraphs, "It's About Time" is beyond compare. The Pigs' catalogue is rife with crowd-pleasing classics such as "Charlotte the Harlot", "No Balls At All", "MTA", "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian," "Singin' In the Bathtub", and the oft-requested "Eggplant That Ate Chicago", and songs that are accessible and yet often overlooked, such as "Spanish Pipedream", "Blinded By Turds", "Coney Island Parade" (a very obscure cover of the Perry Como classic), "Willie the Weeper" (bass solo), "Three Jolly Coachmen", "Ukulele Lady" and "Would You Like to Swing on A Star?". Though none of these songs are featured on "It's About Time", one can only imagine the magnitude of a CD featuring all of these wonderful musical selections.

The songs that are here are pretty good though. "Rag Mama Rag" and it's "Thief Eyes, Criminal Eyes" sounding chorus, "Chili Blues" a true Cincinnati theme if ever there were one, "The Pig Got Up/S-A-V-E-D", a tribute to those who live the hard life and have problems with the easy one (though which is which is up for debate), and "Jelly Jam Blues" an innuendo-laden (or is it) song concerning the differences in language from one part of this great land to the next, all of these great ballads are here for the listening on "It's About Time." It must not be overlooked that this CD is great for children of all ages, as "Dos" can teach them about the wonders of...uh...the...uh...musical scale (that's the ticket), "Old and Grey" espouses the values of true love and honesty, and "Alabama Jubilee", a song about the elderly, the clergy, African Americans, and the handicapped/differently able (One Legged Joe), teaches our children acceptance and the value of dancing and having fun with everyone (even the elderly, the clergy and gimps.) Children can also learn about language, as "This Land Is Your Land" contains more rhyming words ending in -ing in the final verse than any song in history (shining, strolling, waving, rolling, lifting, saying) and, lest there be any confusion in a child's mind, it's clear from the start that the word is pronounced Po-TAY-toes from Eric Burher's rousing vocal in "Diggin' My Potatoes".

The Pigs' sound is anchored by the rhythmic cadence of the beer-cap topped fingers of Keith Baker strumming up and down the Genuine Columbus Washboard (he's a very talented fellow.) Eric Buhrer's seemingly endless supply of things to put in or around his mouth adds a degree of surprise and sometimes complete awe to the Pigs total sound. On the album, and sometimes even live in person, there are spectacular harmonica and guitar solos from Messrs Horning and soon-to-be guitar legend John Marlowe respectively. What's lacking from this CD is a bass solo by the talented Tom "Professor Shorthairs" Beck. A smart and sassy bass player, he ups the band's group I.Q. by at least double digits. In all, Baker, Beck, Buhrer, Horning and Marlowe form a quintet the likes of which have not been seen since the starting five of the 1956 Boston Celtics.

What, then, of this cacophonous clamor known as "The Pigs"? What, then, of "It's About Time?" The CD scores points in ways that only a French figure skating judge could ignore. When you get a chance, pick it up. If nothing else, it makes for a nice coaster on any coffee table or a conversation piece at a convent rummage sale. For ten dollars (if you are given the "friend" price) it is well worth it. "It's About Time" is about to be a smash-success, even if it takes a few years.

CityBeat Review - June 9, 2004

With a semi-regular residency at Arnold's Bar and appearances in just about every major outdoor event in their namesake city, the Pigs are Cincinnati mainstays. They occupy what must be presumed to be the enviable position of being the only (or at least most active) living jug band in the area. Armed only with a washboard, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, guitar, bass and, of course, jug, the band relies heavily on interpreting and in some cases reinterpreting old standards from Woody Guthrie ("This Land Is Your Land") to Blues pioneer Huddie Ledbetter ("Diggin' My Potatoes"). Taking their cues from Appalachian Folk and applying Ragtime signatures liberally, the Pigs add their own special shtick on top which might be a little too much (imagine Barenaked Ladies doing vaudeville) for most purists. For an original tune, check out vocalist and "juggist" Eric Burhrer's funny ode to a Skyline three-way on "Chili Blues." These Pigs sound like a whole mess of fun. (Sean Rhiney) Grade: B




©2004 Cincinnati Dancing Pigs