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Album Review

Though the original plan for a sequence of tunes for kids was scrapped, No Knowledge of Music Required still features a few sing-along choruses and some spooky storybook narratives — not to mention Peter Stampfel's unmistakable yelp. But these 17 mostly acoustic performances are anything but kids-around-the-campfire stuff. Stampfel and guitarist Gary Lucas imbue every song with a unique, off-kilter virtuosity. Given the players' respective musical pasts, this shouldn't be so surprising. Stampfel founded the Holy Modal Rounders and did a stint in the Fugs; Lucas earned early cult recognition playing with Captain Beefheart. On tunes familiar ("Shortening Bread"), forgotten ("Astro Boy"), and new ("Crawlspace" and "Zoe's Song") Stampfel and Lucas create the serious variety of silliness that's typically reserved for children's nursery rhymes and elitist dada art. The guitar/banjo duets and the duo's tribute to Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence are especially fun. Of course, when it comes to folk music or psychedelic music or music for kids of all ages, fun isn't for everyone.

No Knowledge of Music Required, The Du-Tels
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