Thursday, February 5, 2009

Van Dyke Parks- Song Cycle (1968)

Van Dyke Parks, known to the kids as the that other guy from SMiLE, makes his own musical statement with Song Cycle. This album is undeniably American. It explores every corner of American music from Appalachian folk and blues to vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. At the same time, Park's swirling orchestration and distinct vocals throughout take these styles out of context and presents them as something wholly unique and personal. The album opens with "Vine Street," penned by Randy Newman, flowing into "Palm Desert" and on through the rest of the album, practically smashing one track into another. However, that's partly what makes this album great. It's a progressive musical experience.

Song Cycle is at times a bit overwhelming. Being a classically-minded work, there are no shortages of dramatic changes in time and mood. However, there is a cohesiveness, it's a song cycle, doy. Certainly too complex for someone with such limited musicality like me to effectively critique, I nonetheless find this album really interesting. Get at it.

1. Vine Street
2. Palm Desert
3. Widow's Walk
4. Laurel Canyon Blvd.
5. The All Golden
6. Van Dyke Parks
7. Public Domain
8. Donovan's Colours
9. The Attic
10. Laurel Canyon Blvd.
11. By the People
12. Pot Pourri

Listen to "The Attic"

Download Song Cycle


J.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.D. said...

I was able to score the 2007 Japanese mini LP reissue, it really makes me want to live in an alternate universe where the Beach Boys actually released SMiLE back in '66...

bob tomorrowland said...

Absolutely brilliant album. Had the pleasure of crafting the press release for his last album with Inara George... check out my Flickr pix in his garden:

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