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Song Cycle

Van Dyke Parks Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £9.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Biography

Songs Cycled - by Van Dyke Parks:
"This album is released 45 years from my debut album "Song Cycle" (when I was but 24). In both cases, there's a maverick on the loose, with a highly personal set of tunes and instrumentals. All of them reveal an iconoclast tilting at windmills, railing at tyrants, barking at masters of war, and celebrating a shameless commitment to the ... Read more in Amazon's Van Dyke Parks Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Song Cycle + Clang Of The Yankee Reaper + Songs Cycled [2lp+cd] [VINYL]
Price For All Three: £35.76

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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Jun 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B007YDJTI0
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,645 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Vine Street 3:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Palm Desert 3:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Widow's Walk 3:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Up Laurel Canyon0:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. The All Golden 3:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Van Dyke Parks0:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Public Domain 2:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Donovan's Colours 3:38£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. The Attic 2:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Down Laurel Canyon 1:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. By The People 5:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Pot Pourri 1:07£0.99  Buy MP3 


Product Description

BBC Review

The man who co-wrote Brian Wilson’s lost (and rediscovered) opus, The Beach Boys’ Smile, must have always thought he had a record in him. It probably didn’t enter into his mind, though, that it would quietly take on a mythical status in the same way that Smile, that most lauded and cherished of follies, did.

Van Dyke Parks, a slight guy with a fine line in bizarre, innovative instrumental arrangements, creates sounds that embody the very essence of capricious experimentation. And this first album is where it is at its most potent and enjoyable.

Song Cycle (remastered and reissued alongside two follow-up LPs, Discover America and Clang of the Yankee Reaper) is the ultimate confection. It flits impishly between snippets of winsome folk, flourishes of woodwind and clanging percussion and cheeky quotes of Beethoven in ways that, for all his innovation, Brian Wilson would probably never have attempted. Densely clouded with fluffy strings, reverbed vocals and some magical Hollywood musical sprinklings, one doesn’t dip into Song Cycle – one is enveloped by it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy going. The covers of Randy Newman’s Vine Street and Donovan’s Colours are perhaps the simplest nuggets to digest here, but the real rewards lie in more difficult works. The grinding violin solo of By the People, the funereal opening of Widow’s Walk and the encroaching stress of All Golden are all eye-widening moments of pure inspiration. But they all drown in idiosyncrasy that’ll either appeal or alienate.

All of these musical difficulties give the record an unpredictable quality, the sense that it might lurch off into realms unknown just when you were starting to relax. And that’s probably why it was never a hit.

In a way, it’s a blessing that Van Dyke Parks’ lofty attempt to catalogue and innovate within American popular and classical music remained undiscovered for so long. It sold fairly miserably on its original 1968 release and has only really been evangelised by Beach Boys completists. Perhaps now, in an age where rediscovery is as culturally valuable as looking forwards, this gem will receive the adulation it deserves.

--John Doran

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Product Description

CD Reissue

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very special. 18 Jun 2012
By Unique
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Glad to see this album re-issued, such an interesting and uncompromising album, unconventionally arranged classical and baroque pop collide and get infused with other sounds. Van's voice is also very charming and adds a very particular charm to it all. The album took a few listens to truly "get in-to" it but once it sinks it teeth in you'll fall in love. It's an unknown masterpiece, shame the track "The Eagle & Me" is not here, very good track as well. This album must have sounded quite alien at the time of it's release, ahead of it's time this one.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great remaster of an incredible classic 12 Jan 2013
By Brian Whistler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
How does one sum up Song Cycle? A dense, psychedelic pastiche of every genre of music from neoclassical to music hall, from ear candy pop to vaudeville, from Americana/folk tradtions to Hollywood musicals and beyond. For starters anyway. Beyond classification, Warner Brothers green-lighted a lavish budget to the boy genius who had co-written a couple of tunes with one Brian Wilson. Once they heard the masters, they knew they were in trouble. Thus the nail-bitingly obvious and panicky ad campaign. I remember it well: After failing to get sales despite an aggressive and overtly gushing ad campaign, the A&R people had a crazy idea to encourage sales: you could send in your old copy and get two new ones free! I had my copy already, and had already bought another just because my friend's pet raccoon had taken a bite out of it (true story,) and anyway, the second pressing had the lyrics printed on the back and I needed them desperately!

So I bought the Warner bros. 1990 reissue CD a few years back and was disappointed by the thin sound. What happened to that lush recording I knew so well it was encoded in my very DNA, one of the key albums that became part of the soundtrack of my drug-addled 16-year-old mind way back in 1968?

Take heart dear true believers: salvation has just arrived in the form of this 2012 remaster. I just A/B'd Vine St and the remaster is much more than a highly compressed, overly bright cheap shot; it is the real thing, a carefully cleaned up and detailed restoration. The orchestration, which has seduced and baffled these ears for some 40 odd years, is clearer than ever. You can hear the warmth of the string section, even feel the rosin on the bow of the solo violin at the end of By the People. God this is brilliantly insane stuff! You can now hear details that were buried and obscured, weird accordion flourishes, strange hi tech sounding effects from low tech tricks. I'm speechless as to how much information is hidden in these whacked tracks. It's like they hired a bunch of audio geeks who climbed the high towers of Mr Parks' lofty vision and cleaned every window on all the floors of his mind's alabaster skyscraper. Pure magic.

How did someone come up with such a perfect take on such a complex and chaotic cultural moment? And how can it be that he was able to create such an enduring masterpiece that so vividly and broadly reflects the schizoid state of the collective American psyche at such a critical moment in history and yet clocks in at a mere 32:53? Alas, I have no answer to that question, only reverence and yes, awe, even 45 years after the fact.

Ok, now for the not so great part. While I like the cardboard mini sleeve, I was disappointed that Bella Union didn't take advantage of this portentous moment in pop reissue history to give us something more than a lyric booklet. That's right, no scholarly essays, no appreciation by a pop icon, no reminisces of the recording sessions, no photos and sadly, no credits for all the incredible musicians who participated in this monumental project. Even my original CD listed every single player by name and instrument. So I am somewhat disappointed, especially in light of the fact that the inner sleeves of this foldout cardboard case are totally blank!

Missed opportunities aside, they got it right where it counts: it sounds amazing. I understand there is a book out that is devoted to this album. Guess I'm gonna have to pick it up. Meanwhile, pick this disc up. It is the real article, a totally original brain child of a young mad genius in the flower of his creativity.
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