Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Van Dyke Parks|
Moonlighting: Live At The Ash Grove
Genres: Folk, Special Interest, Pop
Parks has always been a moonlighter, producing albums by Little Feat and Randy Newman, writing arrangements for U2 and Victoria Williams, and composing film scores. He's also recorded half a dozen albums on his own, but he... more »
Listen to Samples
Parks has always been a moonlighter, producing albums by Little Feat and Randy Newman, writing arrangements for U2 and Victoria Williams, and composing film scores. He's also recorded half a dozen albums on his own, but he's spent most of his career in the shadow of an early failed collaboration: his work as lyricist for Brian Wilson's epic '60s disaster, Smile. Moonlighting, a live recording taken from a 1996 performance, places him in the spotlight's full glare. There may be a 17-piece band behind him, but Parks sings (by his own admission badly) and plays piano throughout, displaying the personality a bitter environmentalist one moment, and then self-assured professor the next-that drives the album. Though he's lived in California since the '60s, Parks was born in Mississippi and even without the drawl he remains a Southerner. That he's a sentimentalist is evident in the Br'er Rabbit-inspired "Jump!" and "Hominy Grove," but he also has an intellectual's appreciation for the past. Occasionally, this leads him astray; listen to his stilted version of Uncle Dave Macon's old folk tune, "C-H-I-C-K-E-N." More often it feels right, especially on a lovely orchestral remake of John Hartford's "Delta Queen Waltz" and a pair of instrumentals inspired by the 19th-century New Orleans composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Moonlighting is a welcome anachronism, with its star reading a Robert Frost poem, singing a song about FDR's trip to the Caribbean before cruiseships, and reinventing Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes" as a slide-guitar-and-strings art song. Between songs, Parks admits, "This isn't a franchise operation, folks." Thank God for that, not to mention Parks's thin voice and slightly misshapen heart. --Keith Moerer
Similarly Requested CDs
In a world of aluminum and plastic, this is polished wood.
R. Claster | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one beautiful album. Ain't nothing synthetic here... just brilliantly crafted and executed music, played by real people on real instruments. Van Dyke is an American Treasure, and should be celebrated as such. Buying and reveling in this album is a good way to start."
The best live album ever?
Robert Storm | Finland | 05/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a fan of live albums but there's a few live albums I really love, such as Live Killers by Queen and this one. Often the problem in live albums is that there music sounds the same as in studio albums, only worse. On this album the music doesn't sound the same as on the studio albums because Van Dyke Parks has rearranged the songs. Most of them sound even better than on the studio albums. This music has nothing to do with rock. The songs are very old-fashioned, ragtimes, waltzes... Three of the songs are from the album Orange Crate Art which Parks recorded with Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) as the singer. On this album he sings them himself. His voice isn't as strong as Wilson's but his versions of the songs don't sound worse, just different."
allismile0 | Washington, DC | 11/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"fantastic orchestration, shimmering sound quality, and songs that have peculiar but most graceful melodies. Van Dyke Parks has been a behind the scenes guy adding so much to bands as varied as The Beach Boys to U2; but his gift of translating others' songs as well as writing gorgous melodies is distinctly original.
Moonlighting, works as a sort of best-of, covering most of his solo career. Along with great performances, he also spins some history of each song telling a bit of where the inspiration came from, all adding to his unique southern charm. If you enjoy tin pan alley music this is a great album to add to your collection."