Blotto’s discography was dominated by singles and four track EPs. They had one album, the supremely entertaining Combo Akimbo (1982), and that was that! So, when the CD age rolled around, the suits over at Blottones publishing must have decided to get in on that! Almost all Blotto’s output was reissued in a single CD collection, including the complete album Combo Akimbo.
Blotto’s Collected Works is probably the most logical pit-stop to check out the band on your musical journey. We begun with their hit “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard”, from their debut EP Hello, My Name Is Blotto, What’s Yours?. “Lifeguard” represents the hopes and dreams of a shoe salesman who really just wants to get paid to hang out on a beach all day. Done in the surf-rock style of course. Then “(We Are The) Nowtones” is a musical advertisement for the band you should hire for your next event. “We are the Nowtones! We do Top 40! We wear matching outfits! We look real sporty! Like a living juekbox, we play the hits. Appear in nightclubs that are the pits.”
At this point the compilation presents the Combo Akimbo album in sequence. For my money, I prefer the vinyl. Not only is it a self-contained work, but it’s got way more beef to it. Comparing LP to CD, there is no question which sounds better. Combo Akimbo is blast of an album, but we’ve already reviewed it, so check that out for more detail. The key takeaway for most people will be the song “Metal Head” featuring Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, which received some MTV and MuchMusic play in the early 80s. For a certain generation, this is the only Blotto song they know due to its presence on the legendary compilation LP Metal For Breakfast.
Blotto’s second EP Across and Down (1980) is also presented in sequence. “She’s Got a Big Boyfriend” has a riff similar to the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer”, but the song goes in another direction — 80s pop rock. Then “Gimme the Girl” is tropical reggae vibes via Albany NY. It’s supremely fun for parties. Run for cover if you’re overly sensitive when “My Baby’s the Star of a Driver’s Ed Movie” begins! The classic ballad stylings contrast with the words. The final Across and Down song is the punk rock scorcher “H.S.H.” — “High School Honey”, a clear winner in any race.
“Lightning Strikes” is a real rarity, from a 1982 indy compilation called Hudson Rock: Fifteen Bands From Albany. It’s an also-ran with nice harmonies but is otherwise largely forgettable. A live version of “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard” is better than the studio original, and it’s another rarity. It was originally released on a low quality flexi-disc that came with a 1987 compilation LP also called I Wanna Be a Lifeguard. Then there’s an amusing song called “The B-side”, from the single for “When the Second Feature Starts”. “The A-side gets all the glory, the B-side, that’s another story…and you’re probably not even listening to this right now!”
The only serious skipper is the cover of “Stop! In the Name of Love” with lead vocals by former singer Blanche Blotto. This B-side from the first EP is campy but not particularly good. The overwrought vocals ruin what might have been a cool disco arrangement. Another dicey inclusion is a “karaoke” mix of “Lifeguard” (eww). A better song to include would have been “Bud…Is After Us” from the first EP which otherwise would have made the CD too long.
Yes, it’s the Collected Works, but there’s still a bit more out there to collect. There’s even another compilation CD called Then More Than Ever from 2000, all unreleased material. Still more to explore; but in the meantime consider Collected Works as a great way to get really, really Blotto.