Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Tiger Lillies - Shockheaded Peter

An accordion-wielding freak show, complete with the evil clown make-up, castrati-style falcetto, and songs about the pleasures of crucifying Jesus and copulating with inflatable sheep. Does this sound like a ticket to instant success and an engagement on the Disney channel? Yeah, no kidding.
Mostly, the Tiger Lillies' over-the-top-ness is a bit too much for my taste. However, at least once in their career the parts came together perfectly to form the ultimate artistic statement, the perfect fusion of form and content - the Shockheaded Peter opera. The magic ingredient in the stew was Struwwelpeter, the classic german children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It's a collection of didactic verses about the perils of misbehaving, untainted by the modern quibbles about all that money the kids will have to spend on phychiatrists. While reminiscent of the american "Ruthless Rhymes" (AKA Little Willies) and russian "маленький мальчик" verses, Hoffmann's poetry really stands out by its very serious tone: "The great tall tailor always comes / To little boys that suck their thumbs. / And while they dream what he's about / He takes his great sharp scissors out / And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then / You know, they never grow again."
Read the book and admire the illustrations, or proceed directly below to hear the wonderful interpretations by Martyn Jacques and Co.

The Tiger Lillies - Shockheaded Peter
192 kbps, 46 mb
1. Struwwelpeter Overture
2. Cruel Frederick
3. Dreadful Story About Harriet And The Matches
4. Bully Boys
5. Story Of The Man That Went Out Shooting
6. Snip Snip
7. Augustus
8. Fidgety Philip
9. Johnny Head In Air
10. Flying Robert
11. Shockheaded Peter

PS. You can also get "The Circus Songs" at

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding! Thanks also for the link to the book. Dame Edna - eat your heart out!!! Still, why in Johnny Head In Air is the voice so buried?
    And would it be possible to upload large cover art and more details about the record?
    Thank you, thank you anyway! What a discovery!
    And hello from Australia!