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The Griffin Family Hits Sin City

Every animation fan knows the story of Family Guy by now: it was cancelled, released on DVD, and brought back due to extremely fine sales. It’s hard to deny that the series is hilariously charming, and much of that charm comes from the songs sprinkled throughout its various episodes.

In fact, these songs were popular enough to warrant the recent release of a “live” album featuring the show’s vocal cast paying homage to Vegas lounge shows. The disc is a fun listen and does a good job of covering up the fact that it’s not actually happening in real time. Without the restrictions of broadcast standards & practices, the album is a bit edgier than the TV show, adding an element of surprise. That said, Family Guy Live in Las Vegas does leave a bit to be desired, and it isn’t quite as clever as the show.

The CD opens with a short intro that leads into an extended version of the show’s theme song. The additional sections feature some moderately funny lines, but the CD becomes more entertaining as it progresses. The next two songs (“Babysitting is a Bum Deal” and “Dear Booze”) are decent, but are really only good for the novelty of hearing some of the cast members use colorful language. “Babysitting” has some funny dialogue between Stewie and guest star Haylie Duff, but doesn’t hold up on repeated listenings.

But the next two songs, “The ‘Q’ Man Loves Nobody” and “All Cartoons are F**ckin’ D*cks,” are terrific. “Q” does a nice job of defining Quagmire’s character and “All Cartoons” might be the greatest track on the disc. It has a guest spot from Jason Alexander and features various naughty bits concerning such old cartoon characters as Scooby Doo and the Smurfs.

Track 10, “Puberty’s Gonna Get Me,” is another funny tune. Chris’ voice is always entertaining. The following song, “But I’m Yours” is also very funny. The humor may be juvenile, but anything that involves Peter Griffin is bound to be. The final Brian solo, “Slightly out of Tune,” does the best job of showcasing Seth McFarlane’s smooth vocals, though it is just another mediocre Brian showcase.

“One Boy” is forgettable, mostly because it precedes the wonderful “Quahog Holiday,” guest-starring Adam West. As the finale, it doesn’t disappoint and ranks among the best songs on the disc. It’s a vigorous track that is followed by “Bow Music,” which is exactly what the title suggests.

If there was one track that flew completely over my head, it was “T.V. Medley.” I’ve never seen any of the shows that were covered in that song, so I found my attention drifting during this overlong addition to the album. I’m sure people who have watched those shows will get a kick out it, but a novice like me just couldn’t keep up.

I have to admit that half of the songs aren’t terribly memorable, but the shocking lyrics (compared to the TV series, anyway) make up for that in part. If the actual melodic material of some of the songs isn’t that impressive, the solos from the members of the back-up band/orchestra are meticulously performed and full of energy, essentially saving the less-than-stellar tracks.

The album also comes with some nice bonus material (on an additional DVD), including behind-the-scenes footage and a music video featuring Stewie entitled “Sexy Party.” The music video is decent, but I was surprised that Stewie’s swears were censored, considering you can hear him swearing as clear as day on the CD portion of the package. There are two featurettes, one focusing on the making of “Sexy Party” and the other on the making of the album. Both are informative and worthy additions to the overall product. It’s great to get a glimpse of the animation process, even if it only deals with the basics.

In summation, the CD is a good way for Family Guy fans to spend 68 minutes. Those with even a casual familiarity with the show are sure to get a kick out of hearing these irreverent cartoon characters “live on stage.”

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