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Matthew

Van Dyke Park: Song Cycle

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Received my new lp of Van Dyke Park's Song Cycle, and I don't have a clue what I just heard :blink: . This is one different record that going to take a lot of getting used to. Is anyone else mystified by this lp also?

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I was when it first came out in 1967. Sold it and never looked back (maybe I should)

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Try some of Van Dyke Parks' later albums, they're a tad less weird.

Edited by J.A.W.

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I also bought Parks' Discover America, but I might give Song Cycle a couple more spins before I move on.

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What did you just hear?

A unique combination of amphetamine-fueled genius colored by similarly fueled delusions of grandeur and modified by a total lack of fear or concern for what pop music should or shouldn't be.

Is it brilliant or is it bullshit?

Is it a totally unified work or a totally incoherent mess?

Is it rewarding of repeated detailed listening or too dense and obscure to ever yield up a bounty?

"Yes" to all of the above, and "no" too.

It's that kinda thing.

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What did you just hear?

A unique combination of amphetamine-fueled genius colored by similarly fueled delusions of grandeur and modified by a total lack of fear or concern for what pop music should or shouldn't be.

Is it brilliant or is it bullshit?

Is it a totally unified work or a totally incoherent mess?

Is it rewarding of repeated detailed listening or too dense and obscure to ever yield up a bounty?

"Yes" to all of the above, and "no" too.

It's that kinda thing.

That is the greatest review I've ever heard of this album.

It describes it perfectly. Very insightful!

If you can track down a version of the Beach Boys' lost Smile album, that would probably be the best introduction to Mr. Parks. I didn't like Song Cycle at first, but it grew on me.

:rsmile:

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Somewhere in this apartment is my copy of Song Cycle. It was ahead of its time when it came out and evidently still is. Van Dyke released several other albums on Warners in the following years. He had a show produced on Broadway(not a success) and is an all around genius. If you own Song Cycle give it repeated listenings and try to imagine a time when pop music was wide open and artists were free to make music, not just money.

Edited by mailman

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If you own Song Cycle give it repeated listenings and try to imagine a time when pop music was wide open and  artists were free to make music, not just money.

I agree with you. I write and perform rock music. Fortunately there are good independent labels, and the internet is a great tool for sharing music. I just wish there were more places to play music.

The major labels are completely in it for the money. It really sucks that many of the great labels were sucked up by the conglomerates.

:(

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I recently got this one from the Groovy Bastids. As a fan of Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, and Randy Newman, I have to say that this one has me simultaneously horrified and fascinated. I keep putting it on with a sort of combination of annoyance and compulsion, kinda like scratching an itch. As usual, Sangrey called it:

A unique combination of amphetamine-fueled genius colored by similarly fueled delusions of grandeur and modified by a total lack of fear or concern for what pop music should or shouldn't be.

Is it brilliant or is it bullshit?

Is it a totally unified work or a totally incoherent mess?

Is it rewarding of repeated detailed listening or too dense and obscure to ever yield up a bounty?

"Yes" to all of the above, and "no" too.

It's that kinda thing.

Somewhere in this apartment is my copy of Song Cycle.  It was ahead of its time when it came out and evidently still is.  Van Dyke released several other albums on Warners in the following years.  He had a show produced on Broadway(not a success) and is an all around genius.  If you own Song Cycle give it repeated listenings and try to imagine a time when pop music was wide open and  artists were free to make music, not just money.

Exactly what I was thinking, too. Amazing that a major label footed the bill for this visionary madness. They kept on supporting it, too, as this was put out on CD very near the beginning of that cycle.

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I bought this back in 1968 on the strength of rave reviews and his association with the Beach Boys and the Byrds. Held on to it for several years and a number of listenings, but ultimately just never was able to warm up to it. This was clearly an ambitious and unique creation, but I think JSangry has pretty much summed it up. Warner Brothers got behind it in a big way too, but I doubt that they ever went into the black with it.

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I'm not a Van Dyke Parks fan - I find his writing to be too precious, reaching for a poetry he just does not get to -

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Warner Brothers got behind it in a big way too, but I doubt that they ever went into the black with it.

IIRC, Warner Brothers actually tried literally giving it away after awhile, in an attempt to get people into it. Didn't work.

For those who aren't old enough to remember, Warner Brothers in the very late 1960s and very early 1970s was one hip pop (not rock, but pop) label. This was the days of those great $1 sampler albums they'd do, some of which contained otherwise unavailable material. They were actually into giving shit away, or almost giving it away.

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I'm not a Van Dyke Parks fan - I find his writing to be too precious, reaching for a poetry he just does not get  to -

I tend to agree about the end result, but dammit, there's a helluva lot of individual moments of brilliance while he's not getting there. I'm a fan in spite of it all.

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