They Might Be Giants Anthology

by Robert Rodgers

Starting out with their lowly used keyboards and rhythm sections up to their Dial-A-Song service out of their Brooklyn apartment, They Might Be Giants' John Linnell and John Flansburgh have slowly worked their way up from the primordial ooze and into the limelight. With some of their newer hits like "Particle Man" and "Constantinople" taking the fame, most of their earlier works are seemingly forgotten. But now, fans can remember and relive those classics on their newest two-disc release Then: The Earlier Years on the Restless record label.

Featuring songs from their first albums, each disc contains 36 songs each, including B-sides and bonus tracks, for a total of 72. If you like They Might Be Giants, or have never heard of them, this is a good starting point to trace their musical history. Their wit and humor will amaze you, as John & John take you on a harmonious journey through imaginary realms that only these two could devise. Knee-slappers like "Youth Culture Killed My Dog" and "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes" will keep you laughing for hours on end. The fuzzy guitars on "Mr. Klaw" rip and roar through a few seconds of samples and lyrics. They also perform adaptations of "Lady is a Tramp" and "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You. " For the more serious-type critic, try "Ana Ng" or "Nightgown of the Sullen Moon. " Any way that you go is the right way!

Also, there is a unique service available to music fans, though fans of a small genre. They Might Be Giants, in their humble beginnings, have offered a service where fans can phone an answering machine and actually hear one of TMBG's songs.

Early in the band's career, John Flansburgh's apartment was raided, and the bandits made off with every Moog synthesizer and Alesis drum machine they had bought. In another incident, John Linnell broke his wrist in a biking accident. Because of these two dilemmas, They Might Be Giants were unable to play any live shows for a few months. So, they came up with the idea of a Dial-A-Song service, in order to keep making music and remain in contact with their fans. Based on Dial-A-Poem or Dial-A-Prayer, they set up an answering machine with tapes of home recorded songs. "The process of making recordings for Dial-A-Song proved to be valuable training in songwriting economy and craft," said the two musicians. "There was this one unattainable note which we had to avoid because it was the tone that restarted the machine." Though riddled with a few speed bumps, they eventually triumphed, and the Dial-A-Song became invaluable to fans and indispensable to the career of They Might Be Giants. If you would like to try this free service (just 10 cents a minute, long distance; no service charge or toll) just pick up the receiver and dial 718-387-6962 to hear the music of They Might Be Giants.

Samples, keyboards, drum machines, and guitars. Even though its hard to put They Might Be Giants into a certain genre, if you like good, humorous, and definitely weird music, then you will surely want to add this to your next shopping list.

Send EMail to The Tiger Times

Return to table of contents.