Folky acoustic singer-songwriters walk a narrow path at the best of times between being much too twee and insipid, and just delivering acoustic versions of potential rock songs. Al Lewis treads the line carefully, with some degree of success.
The album opens with the relatively upbeat The Truth in Growing Old which is built on subtle layers of guitar and piano performing a fairly traditionally arranged song. One of the first things you notice is the quality and sheen of the mix. All of the instruments are audible and clear, yet also soft and gentle. I always grimace slightly when someone starts playing a harmonica solo, but on this occasion it is understated, not overdone and actually quite pleasant, which is surprising.
Next up are three songs which stretch the formula which the album opener suggests only slightly. Sunshine and Don't Believe in Magic are slightly morose, yet catchy songs with hooks all over the place. Sometimes, the breathiness of the vocals and the ridiculously slick production calls to mind the backing music of a cheesy John Lewis advert, and once that imagery takes hold there is no shaking it. Luckily, these songs are separated by the downtrodden yet somehow major key run through of Treading Water, where the female backing vocals really lift the charming arrangement to another plain entirely.
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With a tagline like "The Greatest Production Since The Birth Of Motion Pictures," you get a little something like the unmanageable monstrosity that Follies ultimately becomes. Structured as a series of unrelated vignettes, directed by different people (not to mention that screenwriting credit list), it's ultimately just a jumble of parts that add up to less than a whole movie.
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Now he's the subject of his own documentary, Pornstar, wherein his secrets are revealed (including a CIA family, penny-pinching ways, and an obsession with his own publicity. Through a series of utterly hilarious interviews with publishers like Al Goldstein and Larry Flynt, porn starlets like Tabitha Stevens and Alisha Klass, and oddball friends like Al ("Grandpa Munster") Lewis, the truth about Ron Jeremy is revealed. Yes, it's about what you're expecting, but it is also wildly funny, one of the most sheerly entertaining documentaries since Crumb.
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