Just one of the first 3 albums reissued, Van Dyke Park's second effort is possibly his most accessible as well as most bizarre. For those not initiated with the record, it is a wonderful mix of Calypso/Caribbean soul flavor spiked by Depression Era sentiment and occasional odd ball humor. All the tracks possess a warm feel that Park's arrangements give them, blending strings, steel drums and sweet bass (among other things). As a stand alone work I'm not sure what to compare it to, and that is the true sound of a great record.
As for the reissue itself, there is not much it say. It's a standard digipak with one end to house the CD & the other end for a single pamphlet. There are no liner notes, just pretty much the same same info as the Warner Bros. CD from back in the day (although there is a snazzy picture of a mustached Parks by bus locker rentals!). Information around the release claims the music was remastered, and for all I know it might be, however the new CD doesn't sound that different to me compared to the older one I have. To be honest, it would have been nice of Bella Union (the reissue label) to add little something extra is terms of liner notes. Possibly an interview w/ Parks remembering the recording or an author giving insight to his career at that period (such as how did he decide to use part of The Mighty Sparrow's "Jack Palance" to open his record?).
Well, maybe Mr. Parks felt all that to be unnecessary and just wanted to represent the album to be as it was; a fantastic record. For me it was a not as important to repurchase this record..BUT the fact that it is back in print for others to find is awesome, and I applaud Bella Union for taking step to release his early works.
So, if you haven't, please discover Van Dyke Parks as he discovers America!