Dr. Frank’s Eight Little Songs, I’m nearly positive, is a demo for the Mr. T Experience’s Yesterday Rules. Of course, now that all this time has passed, the CD has a fairly different meaning than it did at its original release. Unlike 1999’s solo effort, Show Business is My Life, 2003’s Eight Little Songs isn’t all over the map genre-wise and isn’t instrument-heavy. In fact, it could probably be best described as acoustic MTX. That is what it is after all, the bare bones of Yesterday Rules. However, after 2004 saw the release of Yesterday Rules, many of these songs might only be of interest to MTX completionists. While the Mr. T Experience versions are generally superior, there are some forgotten/hidden gems on this release that aren’t on Yesterday Rules in any form.
The album starts off with “Institutionalized Misogyny” and, for those familiar with Yesterday Rules, this song is nearly identical. Both versions are simple, acoustic, humorous takes on the idea of--you guessed it--institutionalized misogyny. While I don’t agree with the politics of the song, it still showcases Dr. Frank’s great lyrical abilities and can appreciate the humor of a love song within the confines of a song about unjust political structures--and there’s even the lines “I stole that line from Woody Allen / Isn’t it amusing? / I wish I could make you understand what Woody Allen meant.” Following that track are more songs from Yesterday Rules, “The Boyfriend Box,” “Jill” and “Big, Strange, Beautiful Hammer.” “Boyfriend Box” is a quieter version with programmed drums and no background vocals while “Jill,” like “Institutionalized Misogyny,” is very similar to its Yesterday Rules version. An acoustic, sad (but, MTX-style sad) song with lines like “I’m still having some trouble tying up your loose ends, Jill / And I still see life through the same distorted lens, Jill / And I think I may have said some things about you / In front of some of your friends, Jill.” “Big, Strange, Beautiful Hammer” continues the trend of being a version of one of the acoustic tracks from Yesterday Rules and is also not drastically different.
Then we get an exclusive song! It is entitled “You’re Impossible, Baby” and it features lyrics that only Dr. Frank can do. “You’re like a cute little religion / With rewards and punishments / And I tried to / Follow you / Though you never really make much sense” being one Dr. Frank’s examples of why his “baby” is “impossible.” It’s a simple little, very catchy acoustic song with some “hey, hey, hey”s among other “woah”-esque parts. Then, back to the Yesterday Rules songs; “London” comes on. It is drastically less poppy than the previous track--but if you own Yesterday Rules you already knew that. The most notable difference between his version and its MTX counterpart are, once again, the drums that are less impressive. Of course, this is an expected difference between programmed drums and an actual drummer.
Back to exclusive songs, we get probably the most ridiculous song (but also my favorite) with “Monkey” --a love song (“I love you more than words can say / And words can say a lot”) about losing a woman’s monkey on Valentine’s Day. It is sung so lovingly that you can almost forget that it is a joke song with lines like “I’m your mate / You’re my mate / And we don’t need some primate / To show us who we are.” The closing track is also exclusive, “Democracy, Whisky, Sexy.” While it isn’t the strongest song Dr. Frank has ever written, it is a cool song for MTX fanboys (and girls) and changes it up more than the other tracks on the release.
Admittedly, in the year 2012, this release doesn’t have the “hear some new MTX songs before they’re released” push that it did in 2003--making it probably mostly a release only worth getting for major fans. Still, ignoring that not many people are probably interested in hearing demo versions of the songs on Yesterday Rules, the exclusive cuts are definitely worth the purchase. Though, whether you are a major fan or just a casual fan, “You’re Impossible, Baby” and “Monkey” are flat-out great songs.