The Muppet Corner: The Muppet Show (album) side 2
And we’re back. Muppet corner returns for the second part of a two-part feature. We will be analyzing the second side of the one and only “The Muppet Show” (album). We get off to a raucous start, with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem playing a notably violent rendition of “Tenderly,” originally composed by Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence. It is a real bop, filled with the chaotic energy that makes us love Electric Mayhem so much. Animal is a monster on the drums, and gets his own mini solo at the end, followed by one of his classic roars. We also get a delightful little duet with Zoot and Lips in the middle. This is the type of music that people should think of when pondering the question of Muppet covers. A respectful version of the OG composition that grants humor while maintaining a strong ‘listenability’ that keeps us moving the needle back to replay it. As Kermit says: “I’ve always felt that the Dr. Teeth group is one of the exemplary practitioners of contemporary music.”
Up next we have the anti-racist anthem “I’m in Love With A Big Blue Frog,” fitting sung by a collections of frogs and Kermit. Their interpretatlyion of the song remains very close to the original version Peter, Paul and Mary, a folk music trio brilliantly satirized as Bill, Mary and Tom in the exceptional film “Nashville” (1975) by Robert Altman. This movie, although probably his most ambitious and exceptional, is actually not my favorite. I prefer both “The Long Goodbye” and “The Player.” I guess I’m more of a cinematic normie, and prefer simpler plots with singular main characters. However, these three movies are all exceptional, and I would give them all four Ebertian stars. Anyways, the anti anti-miscegenation message of this song is the exact type of just message that the Muppets managed to so well convey to their audience.
We get led directly into our next interlude with Statler and Waldorf, where they seemingly reside on a critical seesaw. As one’s opinion on the act decreases, the other increases. This demonstrates our natural contrarian tendencies, and how we will often feel the need to hate something just because others love it, or perhaps internally redeem another work after others critically appraise it oh so low.
The third track contains a rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Tit Willow” by Rowlf and Sam the Eagle. Rowlf is his usual incredible self, and Sam acts increasingly awkward as he tries to follow along with the song, as singing is not in his nature. This duo recalls the Muppet pilot “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence” where Sam the Eagle gained his now classic patriotic personality. This pilot was otherwise rather disastrous, but we can always respect what we have gained, and forget to mourn for what was otherwise lost.
Next we have “Veterinarian’s Hospital,” an ongoing segment parodying soap operas, starring Rowlf as Dr. Bob. He’s aided by Nurse Janice (portrayed by Janice of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem fame), and Nurse Piggy (obviously Miss Piggy). This segment is not anything special, and serves as an example of what a generic segment of Veterinarian’s Hospital would contain. There’s classic word play, and a jocular Muppet who clearly shouldn’t be practicing. I’ve already made clear my preference of the musical segments over the skits, but you can’t knock the classics.
“Simon Smith and the Dancing Bear” is a Randy Newman original that Scooter and Fozzie play very straight. The only humor here comes from the mere idea of Fozzie singing. The song is altogether popular, but I don’t see what makes it a necessity as a Muppets track. It is here that you can see the trouble in making this album after only one season of the show. Imagine making a greatest hits album after only one album has come out! Just getting 19 bits must have been a real tough act.
Speaking of tough acts, Piggy is up next as she manages to strongarm Kermit into letting her perform “What Now My Love.” There is real emotion being sung here through Piggy’s felt vocal chords. Even ardent Piggy haters can still find moving the power she emits in this feminist anthem. Again the Muppety elements come mostly from the silly voices, but as well again the sheer listenability of the whole song delights. It’s no “I’m Gonna Always Love You”, but then again, what is?
Next Fozzie does what is probably his funniest joke in the first season. As Muppet Wiki describes it,
“Fozzie gets Kermit to participate in his act. It’s all unrehearsed, and Fozzie tells Kermit that when he hears the word “hear,” he is supposed to shout “Good Grief! The Comedian’s a Bear!” However, Fozzie keeps saying “hear” during parts of the joke where Kermit isn’t supposed to say the line, and eventually Fozzie has to change his method of demonstration.”
The joke ends up being that he’s actually wearing a necktie. It’s the kind of wordplay that doesn’t translate well over text, but the obvious exasperation Kermit is feeling, and the anti-joke surrounding the regular joke lend a true comedy moment.
Then, Wayne and Wanda sing the poem “Trees.” Well they only sing for a few moments, and then get crushed, presumably by the titular tree. Nothing else to say here.
“Sax and Violence” is an always classic accompanied with a quick joke about Nigel firing Zoot. Nigel shouldn’t be making jokes about firing people, if anything he should be worried about getting fired. What a worthless little Muppet. The rest of the performance is just a regular sax solo. If you love sax, you’ll love this one.
And finally, Kermit performs “Being Green.” What else is there to even say about it? It’s “Being Green.” And that’s enough.