Jimmy Buffett Album #15: Last Mango in Paris
August 21, 2010 2 Comments
My excuse: either I’m becoming more like Jimmy by the week, and simply don’t care about your Regular Society expectations; or I needed a serious reevaluation of everything in my life after my overwhelmingly glowing experience with Riddles in the Sand.
Either way, let’s move on… to Last Mango in Paris, Jimmy’s worst titled, and chintziest designed, album to date. This is one I suspect even parrotheads are embarrassed to display in their CD racks.
(Note: I wanted to type “gun racks” right there instead of “CD racks.” You can’t really blame me, right?)
Last Mango picks up where Riddles left off, steamrolling toward Nashville. Only here Jimmy’s rolled too far. I am choking back bile as I write this for about seven different reasons, but there’s not enough “gulf coast” in Last Mango.
Here’s the best example (we’ll get all of the hard disclosures out of the way first): The title track, “Last Mango in Paris,” is near the end. When it finally comes around it’s a major departure from the rest — it is, if not head and shoulders, at the very least a head above every other song here. A good pop track leaves you wanting and this fits the bill — its choruses are too short, but too jubilantly good, to hear just once. (They make up for relatively benign verses that sound frighteningly like those of Coconut Telegraph‘s ”It’s My Job.”)
And it’s only when “Last Mango” was fading out did I realize why it stood out. Steel freaking drum. This is song eight on Last Mango, but it’s the first song to have any steel drum. And that’s the right way to describe the entirety of Last Mango: it’s Riddles in the Sand, but with way less steel drum.
And. Somehow. Yes. That’s a bad thing.
(The only one other song with noticeable steel drum is the embarrassing “Jolly Mon Sing,” which has Jimmy affecting a faux-Caribbean accent. I’m not even going to discuss it here.)
Other highlights on the album: “Everybody’s On the Run” is a synth-pop plus country combo that actually works. It’s in the same 80s vein as “Fins” and “Where’s the Party,” just more country than those were. It turns out I’m fine with a little bit of Jimmy synthesizer experimentation.
“If the Phone Doesn’t Ring It’s Me” gets credit for its title, whereas “Please Bypass This Heart” loses major points for same. Both are country through and through, but only “Phone” is really tolerable — even then it’s a stretch. “Bypass” is repetitive and dull, and the perfect counter-example to “Last Mango,” thrusting its simple chorus at you time and time again until you’re sick of it.
Other notes on this album:
- There’s an abundance of spoken-word. “Gypsies in the Palace” leads off with a voiceover that is shades of Vincent Price in “Thriller,” only not good. (If I actually liked the song it would drive me crazy to have to suffer through the intro every time. Lucky for me!) “Please Bypass This Heart” has Jimmy intoning skating-rink instructions (“All skate!”) over the bridge.
- “Gypsies” also features a dialogue at the end between Jimmy and the Eagles’ Glen Frey. Glen co-wrote the song, a fact that has immediately lowered him in my esteem. (I always knew Henley was the talent there.) “Gypsies” I am sure is a drunken concert favorite, and it hit just north of 50 on the country charts, but it sucks.
- “Desperation Samba” is another one featuring a foreign language (now with Español) and parodying actual foreign music. Jimmy’s insistence in demonstrating his worldliness means at some pont I will have to pony up a song of my own that has, apropos of nothing, foreign inspiration. Mine will be called “Sangfroid Amidst Schadenfreude” and its choruses will be entirely in German. I encourage you to look forward to that.
- “Beyond the End” features Jimmy yet again backed by a huge choir. I really find these torch songs annoying, and outright refuse to ever be inspired by them. Hear it here first: I will not record a song for this project in which I am backed by a choir. It helps that I can’t fit a choir in my bedroom, but — even if I could — I probably wouldn’t.
Who am I kidding? Of course I would.
Want to be a part of my choir? Enjoy cramped spaces? Fluent in German? You’re in!
My song ratings from iTunes:
A “3″ means I would be okay hearing the song again.
Average iTunes Rating: 1.8
Everybody’s On The Run 
Frank And Lola 
The Perfect Partner 
Please Bypass This Heart 
Gypsies In The Palace 
Desperation Samba (Halloween In Tijuana) 
If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me 
Last Mango In Paris 
Jolly Mon Sing 
Beyond The End