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The Wiggles scorches on live album

Michele Jeffers and Matthew Solarski | Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ludwig Wittgenstein once remarked all great things come in fours. There are four Beatles, four seasons, four “Lethal Weapon” movies, four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and now from the very bosoms of the muses, we mere mortals are graced with the musical genius of four very special Wiggles.With a career spanning more than 13 years, The Wiggles continues to impress audiences around the world with its unrivaled ability to touch the human spirit through ecstatic song and dance. The group’s cheery countenances and smart mock turtlenecks belie the utter tenacity driving its artistic vision. Like its predecessors and fellow Australians, INXS, The Wiggles’ Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field and Greg Page prove to be an unstoppable combination on stage. Recorded during a concert in Sydney, “Live Hot Potatoes!” reveals clear evidence these musical iconoclasts will create nothing short of a musical revolution. In the tradition of Italian opera, The Wiggles kick off its epic with a heart-stopping overture, setting the energetic pace of the show without revealing too much of the mayhem that is to follow. The foursome wastes no time getting the party started, launching immediately into the chart-topping crowd-pleaser “Toot, Toot, Chugga, Chugga, Big Red Car.”Catastrophe seems to plague the show when the Sandman afflicts one of the band members mid-performance. Jeff, the band’s purple-shirted keyboardist and token narcoleptic, routinely nods off at the most inopportune moments – graciously the crowd is ever willing to awaken him on cue.Rumors have long pinpointed Jeff as The Wiggles’ unofficial bad boy. One wonders to what extent art imitates Jeff’s personal life as The Wiggle coyly sings, “Oh lead me to the floor and hear me yell for more / Because I’m a hoop dee dooin’ kinda guy.” One thing for certain, however, is Jeff never lets rumors or cloudy days turn his smile upside down. We could all benefit by adapting Jeff’s positive philosophy, “I hear a polka and my troubles they’re through / Hoop dee hoo.”Hi-jinx and misdemeanors aside, The Wiggles appears in top form on “Potatoes,” steamrolling through a 20-song set that renders the arena-sized crowd rapturous throughout. The rawness of the combo’s wiggling artistry is effectively conveyed, avoiding the pitfalls of recording in an overly superficial music industry that so often obscures the purity of a good wiggle.The Wiggles’ notoriety has skyrocketed in recent years due to a wildly popular television program and a series of dance crazes attributed to the foursome. The most recent of these, “The Monkey Dance,” appears in a thrilling rendition on “Live Hot Potatoes.” The group eagerly seeks out all opportunities to branch out beyond the musical domain. The Wiggles even sells nutritious Wiggle snacks on its Web site. The song “Fruit Salad” proves to be anything but filler. It proves the band’s commitment in helping fans achieve healthy life styles so that their minds and bodies can keep on wiggling. Simply put, “Live Hot Potatoes” is a phenomenal album. The breadth of its talent is matched only by the lead singer’s tenacious stance on the album cover. The Wiggles are a beacon of inspiration, a lighthouse for those canoes lost in the murky sea of Post-Modernism. Its music transcends genre, time and space, inviting the id, ego and superego to all come outside and play in harmony. This album is one hot potato you will not want to pass up. But perhaps it is best to let the words of the band speak for itself, “No matter where you are around the world, The Wiggles’ music will find a place in your home.”