Van Dyke Parks, 'Arrangements, Vol. 1' (Bananastan)

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Arrangements, Vol. 1
Critical Mass
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Label: Bananastan

by Mike Powell

The arranger is music's comic-book colorist, choosing and combining instruments, part artist, part technician. Parks has played the role for 40 years, creating dreamy scenery for whoever's paying. On this early-works collection, it's a hodgepodge: Bonnie Raitt sings calypso, Dean Martin's son sings a psychedelic reggae ballad, Arlo Guthrie sings an Appalachian hymn as glam-country. Parks takes stodgy grandpa forms and makes them zing! again. When it's not campy, it's gorgeous; sometimes, it's both.

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