Sound — 10
Released in 1989, two years after the debut album "Split Image" came out, "The Joke's On You" is one hell of a solid "thrasterpiece" by the now-defunct punk/metal fusion band Excel, the rivalries of Suicidal Tendencies, who also started in their hometown Venice, California. I was present at one of their concerts around 1989 and immediately bought this album on CD along with "Split Image". I live in Los Angeles County and basically, I was friends with Excel a few past members of Suicidal Tendencies (including Mike Muir) back in high school (yeah, I know you can't believe it, but it's true). Anyways, "The Joke's on You" was actually recorded in two sessions. Side 1 of the LP was recorded in 1988, and originally intended to be an EP. The songs on side 2 were recorded a year later, to round out an entire album.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics written by Dan Clements and Adam Siegel are OK. Some of them are hilarious, very deep, meaningful, you name it. Check out the album's songs like "Drive", "Fired (You're a Fine Girl)", "Tapping Into Emotional Void", "Blaze Some Hate" and the Police cover "Message in a Bottle". While not sounding too drastically different from the first album, "Split Image", these songs contain lethal doses of "groove" and "boogie". It's still metallic and very hard, but it's also definitely a more mature sound. These guys are all seriously talented musicians, and Randy Burns' production was spot on as always. Just recently, I found out that Excel was considering a legal action against Metallica over their well-known song "Enter Sandman" which they claim borrows heavily from this album's track "Tapping Into the Emotional Void".
Overall Impression — 10
I would probably compare this album to either Anthrax's "Among the Living", "State of Euphoria" or "Persistence of Time", Megadeth's "Rust in Peace", S.O.D.'s "Speak English Or Die" or anything by Suicidal Tendencies in terms of guitar playing. If you've never heard of Excel, they've been close friends with Suicidal Tendencies when they were around. Sometime after "The Joke's on You" came out, their guitarist Adam Siegel also teamed Suicidal's singer Mike Muir in a funk-rock group Infectious Grooves, along with another Suicidal member Robert Trujillo. It's just too bad Excel albums are now hard to find. "The Joke's on You" is the best album those guys have ever released and it's the most solid "thrasterpiece" of the '80s like Suicidal's "Join the Army"/"How Will I Laugh", Metallica's "Master of Puppets" or Anthrax's "Among the Living". If the CD copy was lost, I could buy another, but don't worry, I always take care of my CDs.