Whatever your age, you’ve probably heard the now-ancient adage (variously attributed): “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t really there.”
One-man jukebox Rick Miller, 49, was born just after the baby-boomers’ formative years, 1945-69, which he attempts to synthesize in Boom (get it?). His lack of firsthand knowledge doesn’t prevent him from trying to appropriate the zeitgeist by mimicking – ineptly, in song and speech – every prominent figure of that seminal era, from the marginally germane Perry Como to Janis Joplin.
As a through line, he relies on the unremarkable reminiscences of his mother, who was a teenager during Toronto’s hippie era; her boyfriend at the time, an African American draft resister; and the Vienna-born adman whom she eventually married. Their insights aren’t especially enlightening. These interview excerpts are clearly intended as a pretext for Miller to showcase his impressions, as offensive as they are off-the-mark.
For decades now, blackface been considered thoroughly unacceptable. But what about blackvoice? Why must we listen to Miller’s mouthed imitation of the ex-boyfriend, instead of audio excerpts from the videotape on view? The evidence suggests an unquenchable ego. By the time Miller takes on Little Eva and Little Richard (or rather, “Pat Boone doing Little Richard” – a subliminal self-critique?), alarm bells have reached a deafening roar. But good luck halting Miller’s locomotion. You’re trapped within a seemingly unstoppable karaoke jag. Where is ASCAP when you need it?
If you do in fact remember the 60s, you don’t need any of these shoddy – if tech-intense – simulacra. And if you weren’t around then, may I suggest a handy app: YouTube.