Wednesday

Van Dyke Parks

Song Cycle - 1968

From Brian Wilson's Smile co-conspirator comes an album that was, and still is (if you calculate for inflation) the most expensive album ever made. It's no surprise then, that this record bears a striking similarity to Smile in its wild instrumentation and cut n' paste song construction. Intended as a musical journey across the American landscape, Song Cycle mixes Hollywood grandeur and a barrage of sound effects that, when paired with Parks' extremely visual songwriting/storytelling and loaded with reverb and dense sound manipulation, results in the pinnacle of 60s album-length experimentation. In response to the poor sales of the record after its release, and faced with piles of it sitting in their warehouses, Warner Brothers ran full page advertisements suggesting listeners send in their worn copies of Song Cycle to Warner Brothers in return for a brand new one, and a second; "one to educate a friend with". Find yourself a set of headphones and enjoy.


13 comments:

JBL said...

I was expecting to like this, but I couldn't get into it. Somewhere between early Zappa & late BBs. I'll have to try again later.

Thanks as always.

Anonymous said...

This album is a tough listen. Patks has some serious skills, dont know if I deft enough to understtand it all...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interesting and strange LP, quite curious to listen to it.

And thanks for this very nice and sensitive blog.

Derek

JR HeatWarp said...

Sensitive?

jbl said...

Very sensitive. Can't you feel it?

Anonymous said...

This album is very hard to get into. I had to come back to it many times before I could really apprecciate it...

The production is very dense, inspired by Brian Wilson (who he had just worked on with Smile). But even if you love Smile, this is a tough record. It's good though.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to add that I've never heard anything like it

The Sunday Morning Hangover said...

Thanks for the post-but the first track is not Vine st-it's by someone else isn't it?
Please help us!!!

The ALF said...

Re: directly above it's "Black Jack Davey" an english folk tune about 500 yrs old. It was an in joke & Nillson for instance used a clip of an early vine street the same way.
Van, who's one of my favorite people. led a very sheltered life. Love those chorus's which are straight out of hollywood circa, the thirties. He could have played in any of several major rock groups on tour but refused because he didn't want to upset his family life.
His is a dense, baroque, style and unique. Try "Jump" which is fairly accessible.Also FWIW there's a strong element of Prokofiev in Van's early work, which can be in some ways explained by the fact that he was, early on a clarinet player

Anonymous said...

A compositional masterpiece complete with charming melodies and cryptic orchestrations. Classical, psychedelia, Tin Pan Alley, and the folk tradition all rolled up in one.

Anonymous said...

Can you repost?

JR HeatWarp said...

Ta-da! Reposted! Enjoy.

Joselino said...

I've started listening many times, but could not finish it. Nevertheless, I have "Tokyo Rose", which I enjoy much.