Joe Hall,
Travelling Without Deoderant:
The Best of Joe Hall (1972-1988)

(Cordova Bay, 1999)

This compendium of 21 tracks offers samples from all of the albums released over a span of 16 years by Joe Hall, the Canadian humorist and bluesy-folksy singer-songwriter.

Hall's humor knows little in the way of boundaries. "Eva B." is an imaginative tale of Hitler serenading his love Eva Braun to come escape with him to a Caribbean hideaway in the style of a calypso-polka. Nearly all of Hall's tracks seem to reference pop genres and songs that have crested and long since disappeared below the surface. For instance, "Flip City" is a funny song inspired by the '60s surf hit "Surf City" (and other surf pop), but this time the subject is an insane asylum.

Devilishly funny, the wicked grin expressed in these songs recalls the sense of humor heard on Mothers of Invention albums and (especially on "(Sitting in the) Bell Tower") the soundtrack to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Interestingly, the full-mouthed vocal stylism gives a European feel to the songs, as if Peter Gabriel were as inspired by Mad Magazine as he was by world music.

It is whispered that Hall has obscure German origins and, hearing this enunciation and another stab at those wacky Nazis on "Lulu (Let's Go Dancing)," it makes sense. Either way, these recordings go back to the early '70s gathering together not only material from the previous albums but (for those that are already in the know and have the records), previously unreleased live recordings from various locations around Canada.

- Rambles
written by Tom Schulte
published 17 May 2003

Buy it from