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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bob & Bob - "Simple & Effective" (M.I.T.B. Records) Vinyl LP

Bob & Bob are an art duo.  Which means they make drawings, paintings, photographs, videos/films, art performances and of course, record albums.  On the surface, one can describe them as not only an American but specifically a Los Angeles version of Gilbert & George.   Yet, entirely different.  Gilbert & George deal with the British world, Bob & Bob are more light, entertaining, and very American.  Beyond that, there are no concrete comparisons between the two duos, except that they are a duo, they do art, and for the casual fan, it's hard to tell the difference between Gilbert and George, and therefore the same for Bob & Bob. 
Bob & Bob has been around since the 1970s, where they met in art school and decided to work together.  What they have produced is quite remarkable, and I have to say the big aspect of them that I like is that they are fun.   The fact that they are not serious is what makes them so important.  Yet, I wouldn't say humor is the only importance to this duo.  
As far as I know, "Simple & Effective" is their first recording under the name of Bob & Bob.  Recorded and released in 1978, the album came out of the Los Angeles art scene when it was very active.  The album reflects not of its time, but more in the state of the Bob & Bob mental state.   14 songs that are funny, but also quite tuneful in that early Beatle mode of tunefulness. Clearly, the album is very much a hand-made project with the lyric sheets that look like it was made at the local Kinko's -including the pages hand stapled by either Bob or Bob.  This is very much a statement by an art duo who looked beyond the art gallery to do their art. 
It's an impressive collection of songs that is very much the DIY spirit of those years.  It's a remarkable album that puts me in a great mood.  There are very few albums that do that. Especially recordings from visual artist, which tends to be on the dark or depressing side.  Not Bob & Bob, they are here to entertain.  Although, I wouldn't take it fully on that surface level.  There is something critical being made here, and I appreciate that effort to put the stamp, even licked, on the culture of that time, and yes, even now.