All the way up to Alice Donut in my collection. I only have this one album by Alice Donut, a late ‘80s punk band. I don’t think I was aware of them when “Donut Comes Alive” was released in 1988; if memory serves, I learned of them a year or two later from my friend-for-life Dan’l, whose musical advice I usually took seriously but late. (For example, he raved about the brilliance of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers for years; after about 15 years of hearing about them, I finally heard them, and he wasn’t wrong. Life is long, but not that long.) I’m pretty sure I bought this at a record store on Central Avenue in Albany, a store that also had a branch on River Street in Troy. The name is not coming to me.
So, Alice Donut . . . this album, “Donut Comes Alive” (a play on the no-longer-hugely popular “Frampton Comes Alive”) came out on Jello Biafra’s “Alternative Tentacles” label. Interestingly, some of the vocals and instrumentation are pretty similar to Dead Kennedys, so it’s fitting they’re on that label. The songs are punk and a little funky, with lyrics meant to be provocative but funny. They’re very much of their time, so songs about Mason Reese or referencing Tipper Gore and Nipsey Russell could be (should be?) lost on modern audiences. There’s a cover of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman,” with reworked lyrics:
“Listening to Julio Iglesias / In a hot air balloon / I’ve got my devices / My paprika too.”
It’s fun, it’s noisy, it’s very ‘80s punk. This isn’t something I’ve ever played much . . . it’s a period piece. Try to explain to the youth of today why the sounds of Tipper Gore having sex was funny. I’m having a hard time explaining it to myself.
The whole album is on YouTube (actually with two additional songs that weren’t on my vinyl release).
Cover art by an artist called Ant, who also contributed the art of the lyrics sheet.
In addition to a lyrics insert, there is a little insert listing other Alternative Tentacles offerings. On the back of that is a bulletin titled “FRANKENCHRIST CASE ACQUITTAL!!!” There are two notes from Jello Biafra, dated June 2, 1986 and August 28 1987, regarding the charges against the Dead Kennedys for their album “Frankenchrist,” which contained a poster by legendary artist H.R. Giger Los Angeles City brought charges that it was a violation of the California penal code against distribution of harmful matter to minors. (We’ll get to the poster when we get to “Frankenchrist.”) A jury was deadlocked and the charges were dismissed in 1987.
Alice Donut is still around, by the way.