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Song Cycle

Van Dyke Parks

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Album Review

Van Dyke Parks moved on from the Beach Boys' abortive SMiLE sessions to record his own solo debut, Song Cycle, an audacious and occasionally brilliant attempt to mount a fully orchestrated, classically minded work within the context of contemporary pop. As indicated by its title, Song Cycle is a thematically coherent work, one which attempts to embrace the breadth of American popular music; bluegrass, ragtime, show tunes — nothing escapes Parks' radar, and the sheer eclecticism and individualism of his work is remarkable. Opening with "Vine Street," authored by Randy Newman (another pop composer with serious classical aspirations), the album is both forward-thinking and backward-minded, a collision of bygone musical styles with the progressive sensibilities of the late '60s; while occasionally overambitious and at times insufferably coy, it's nevertheless a one-of-a-kind record, the product of true inspiration.

Customer Reviews

Fave rave

Easily my favorite album of all-time. I don't think I will ever hear anything quite like it ever again.

Biography

Born: January 03, 1941 in Hattiesburg, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In a field where the term "genius" is handed out freely, Van Dyke Parks is the real article. As a session musician, composer, arranger, lyricist, and singer, he's contributed significantly to several decades' worth of inimitable masterpieces credited to other artists, as well as generating two or three masterpieces of his own. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1941, he was a musical prodigy and attended the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. He studied the clarinet and also worked...
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