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Returning after a nine-year absence from record-making, Van Dyke Parks reaffirmed his affection for folkloric themes on 1984’s Jump This beguiling slice of Americana draws upon Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus stories for its lyrical premise. Though the idea of reviving these Southern dialect tales offended some critics at the time, Parks’ intentions seem purely benign. The tone of Jump is set by its invigorating music, a distillation of Cole Porter-esque pop, classic film scores and Appalachian folk idioms. Tracks like “Opportunity for Two,” “Come Along” and “Hominy Grove” sparkle with fine-spun melodies and billowing orchestrations. Kathy Dalton’s near-operatic vocals bring richness to “An Invitation to Sin” and “After the Ball,” while Parks’ elfin voice lends charm to “I Ain’t Goin’ Home” and “Many a Mile to Go.” Harmonicas, steel drums, banjos and Parks’ New Orleans-accented piano add to the antique ambiance. It took nerve for Parks to release this relentlessly quaint album during the heyday of new wave. Anachronistic back then, Jump sounds ageless today — and deserving of rediscovery.


Born: January 3, 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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