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Smoke the Tapes

April 22, 2022

Stephen Beaupre has released his first album, Smoke the Tapes, an amalgam of punk power chords, incandescent rant and improvised hilarity. This tour-de-force socio-political commentary is unrivaled in it’s spontaneous lyricism and piercing witticisms, lobbed at the Reagan eighties writ large. In fact, these recordings hark from that era, emerging now as a sonic masterwork.

Lafler cover art for Smoke the Tapes, scrawled in Sharpie on a beer coaster long ago.

With Smoke the Tapes, we get 25 tracks of Mr. Beaupre, haggling with a variety of 80s archetypes from TV preachers to Jazzercize icons–well, in some cases he inhabits the character, in lieu of bantering with these Reagan era scoundrels.

Lafler banner art for Smoke the Tapes

In the track Tinted Glass, Wide Tires, Beaupre barks his observations on a Reagan-era dupe in his giant pick-up truck in a mock hysterical tone, over an undulating punk guitar drone. Yes, the pitched cultural critique applies to today’s class of giant pick-up truck enthusiasts, and indeed to contemporary manipulation of the masses by cynical politicians, media and corporate consumer hucksters.

Included on Smoke the Tapes are snippets recorded from the TV of Reagan himself, along with various con artists selling their dance moves, diet pills and prayer cloths, sometimes including off-the-cuff comic dialog with Beaupre.

My favorite track just might be Fleas on a Donkey. Imagine William Burroughs doing his cryptic spoken word bit, only filtered through Robin Williams riffing on a donkey. It’s hard to explain, but it never fails to induce hilarity in me, modulating through bursts of guitar modulations and voices, to a crescendo where we meet the central problem: Fleas on a Donkey! Beaupre is a talented wordsmith, carefully crafting through his humorous lens that is part Frank Zappa, part Bugs Bunny.

Interested parties can stream Smoke the Tapes for free. A download cost $7, now that’s a real value kids! Individual tracks cost a buck.

Steve Beaupre and I were the co-publishers of the Buzzard comics anthology in the 90s (he was editor, I was “art director”), and we also collaborated on his classic graphic novel, Forty Hour Man.

Steve Lafler

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