#114 – “I’ve Got A Fang” (2001)

Mink Car
L.K.: I think “strange” is really the only word I have to describe this song.
A.S.: Oh yeah.  Shades of the band’s earlier work really find their way into this one, only with a much bigger budget.
L.K.: It seems like it’s trying too hard though, unlike the more organic weirdness of the earlier stuff.
A.S.: You think so?
L.K.: We have Langer and Winstanley to blame again for production on this, but it’s also got The Elegant Too in there too. To me it’s just an example of stuff on Mink Car getting too cluttered and odd for its own good.
A.S.: I like how cluttered it is, I like the huge sound, the insistent rapid-fire ride cymbal swing beat, the bass saxophones, The Elegant Too’s manic production style here.
L.K.: Also, I don’t know, I’m never really into the simplistic, riff-based songs as much as everyone else is. That’s just a personal preference.
A.S.: It certainly works well on the record, coming off “Another First Kiss”. In context, it sounds like a revelation: “Oh thank God they’re WEIRD again.”
L.K.: I think I like the Unlimited demo version of this song more than the final version from Mink Car, to be honest. That slowed-down section just sounds so out of place.
A.S.: I wish they’d kept the “The crowd all rushed the stage together” line in, but otherwise I’m all for the studio version.
L.K.: Oh yeah, what was the deal with that? Was that a sample?
A.S.: I don’t know but I wonder if it’s a reference to the “Famous Polka” incident.
L.K.: Oh god, does this really come after “Another First Kiss” in the tracklisting of Mink Car? I’m too lazy and too full of coffee to run up two flights of stairs to look at my CD’s liner notes.
A.S.: It sure does.
L.K.:  …sigh. This album is so fucked up.
A.S.: I love it.  It was the last adult TMBG album I heard due to its somewhat negative reputation and as it turned out, I was missing out on a lot, “I’ve Got A Fang” inclusive. It’s probably their most obviously flawed album, but I adore it regardless.
L.K.: One thing I will say about Mink Car as a whole, and the really fascinating thing about this album and this album alone, is that there are demo or alternate versions of basically every track from it floating around. It’s like a lesson in how good songs go bad. I mean, TMBG learned from Mink Car not to basically release demo versions of an entire album’s worth of tracks in advance.
A.S.: Good songs gone bad in a number of instances (“First Kiss”, “Edith Head”), you’re right there, but I don’t think it’s the case with “Fang”. But that’s just a personal preference. I think the slowed-down section works well, if only because when the fast part comes back in, it hits hard. The Elegant Too really let the song explode.
L.K.: First Kiss, Edith Head, there’s a different “Older”, the ska-y “Cyclops Rock”, the rock “Man It’s So Loud In Here”. I could go on.
A.S.: Lies, Bangs…
L.K.: It’s just such a weird thing to do because it really makes you pick apart and analyze every decision they made as to what to go with for the final product.
A.S.: There are tons of reissues out there that demonstrate that sort of thing as well, but yeah, rarely have so many demos been released right around the same time as the finished album. Interesting point.
L.K.: I feel like that’s why it’s so easy to be hypercritical of Mink Car, and it really isn’t fair to that album in particular, except that that was just the way things worked out. You can point at little individual things and go “I liked that, why did you take it away?”
A.S.: Yeah. That’s another fascinating thing about the TMBG catalogue; you can really do that with so many of their songs, and there aren’t many artists you can say that about otherwise. The Beatles, thanks to the Anthology discs. Otherwise, I don’t really know.
L.K.: TMBG have released a lot more of that sort of thing than most artists would feel comfortable doing. However, they’ve been doing it a lot less recently, and I think situations like this are part of the reason why.
A.S.: Although I am curious about the possible demos of upcoming songs that might show up in the IFC stuff, but who knows what that’ll bring.
L.K.: For future reference though, while releasing demos before an album comes out is a bad idea, releasing stuff a few years later is interesting for all us completist geeks.
A.S.: Yup.
L.K.: Oh man, I forgot about the IFC. (You must be thinking of some other band?) Yeah, that’ll be interesting. Of course, we can’t really discuss those in public when they do come out.
A.S.: Discuss what now? Anyway, I guess this song is partly inspired by an old Saturday morning cartoon, Fangface, of which there is probably too much information about it available on Wikipedia.
L.K.: Never heard of it.
A.S.: Nor have I. “The image of the fang-as-can-opener comes from the vague memory of some Saturday morning cartoon. It might have been ‘Milton the Monster'” – Flans
L.K.: I always just assumed it was about, uh… a guy with a fang. Possibly a vampire, but not necessarily. I never envisioned it as one, I just envisioned a guy with a head that was basically nothing but fang.
A.S.: Whoa, the guy’s head is exclusively a fang?  I just pictured him having only one tooth – a giant fang. That’s a pretty cool thought though.
L.K.: Oh, I mean, I meant it as his only tooth too, but just that it was very disproportionately large compared to the rest of his head.
A.S.: Ah. I’m now picturing a guy with a fang for a head.
L.K.: Basically a giant tooth… but then with a teeny tiny little dude’s head. God this song is weird. Speaking of songs with very few lyrics in them… Oh, somewhat unrelated, but this is another song that is in a different key when performed live, is it not?
A.S.: Yes it is, transposed a whole fourth up live.
L.K.: Makes sense since the studio version is so low.
A.S.: Yeah, Linnell’s really got a nutty vocal affect in the studio version, like his nose is stuffed. All sorts of weirdness in this one.  I like it.

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