A friend of — and occasional songwriting collaborator with — the Blue Öyster Cult and Del-Lords and other vaguely related New York-area outfits (erstwhile rock crit Richard Meltzer being the spiritual center of this family), David Roter brings an artless voice and the soul of a standup comedian to incisively funny moderate-rent records that alternate topical satire and personal complaints. After making a minor cult-single splash with 1979’s “I Think I Slept with Jackie Kennedy Last Night,” Roter cut two albums with skilled small-scale rock-pop accompaniment by assorted Cult-ists and Del-Lords, as well as musical associates of David Johansen.
Bambo has amusingly irreverent biographies of Sonny Liston, Mussolini and Joan Crawford (a song he wrote for, and was first recorded by, the Cult), a wry love letter to an ex-wife and the titular epic in which forest creatures turn the tables and go ballistic against hunters. Beauty of the Island repeats “My Ex-Wife,” “Sonny Liston” and “Adopt Me” (co-scribed by Meltzer), appending some clever current-events reports on the Big Apple (“New York, New York,” “Beauty of the Island”).
Roter, who continued to record for the label run by Albert Bouchard and Deborah Frost of the Brain Surgeons, died of leukemia on February 16, 2003 despite a successful bone marrow transplant. He was 56.