By People Staff
August 02, 1999 12:00 PM

Loudon Wainwright III (Rykodisc)

It has been 27 years since the poet laureate of roadkill warbled his one and only Top 40 hit, “Dead Skunk.” Better known these days as a pop than a pop star, the father of piano man-singer Rums Wainwright has found happiness elsewhere on the dial. A frequent contributor to National Public Radio, Wainwright, now 53, first performed many of these 15 topical zingers on NPR. For Wainwright the skewer is mightier than the sword, and he delights in impaling everyone from Bill Clinton and Jesse Helms to Tonya Harding and Bill Gates. Another favorite target is O.J. Simpson, who not only gets lambasted in song but is the subject of an intricate word scramble game (“O.J. Fun Page!”) included in the CD package. Wainwright aims witty, observant broadsides at music industry greed (“Bring me the bones of Brian Jones/And Joplin’s tinted glasses”) in “What Gives,” urban paranoia in “Carmine Street,” compulsive smokers in “New Street People” and millennial madness in “Y2K.” With backing by a crack group of musicians, including multi-instrumentalists David Mansfield and Chaim Tannenbaum, as well as harmonies by his ex-lover Kate McGarrigle (mother of Rufus), Wainwright talk-sings a mock warning: “The stock market will crash, the air traffic will stop/You won’t find a doctor, forget about a cop.”

Bottom Line: Troubadour hits his marks—and stings