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Song Cycle [Vinyl]
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel includes: Van Dyke Parks (vocals); Ron Elliott (guitar); Nicolai Bolin, Vasil Crienica (balalaika); Misha Goodatieff (violin); Virginia Majewski (viola); Trefoni Rizz, Orville "Red" Rhodes (strings); Gayle Levant (harp); James Horn, Ted Nash (woodwinds); Carl Fortina (accordion); Richard Hyde, Thomas Shepard (brass); George Washington Brown (piano); James Gordon, Hal Blaine (percussion); Jack Glaser, El Supremo (sound effects); Gaile Parks, Durrie Parks (background vocals); Randy Newman, Tommy Tedesco, Ron Elliot, Tom Scott, Steve Young.
  • When this album was released in 1968 it stood apart from everything else--and still does today. This is not because SONG CYCLE was ahead of its time--rather, it belongs to another time and place, a parallel world that draws breath irrespective of calendar, clock, or map. Van Dyke Park's debut carries an apt and simple title. These dozen selections are of a piece, both because of their arrangement and their composition. Parks was already considered a talent to be reckoned with following his collaborative work with Brian Wilson, penning lyrics for The Beach Boys--evocative nuggets of seductive inscrutability. Here again the sounds and the lyrics dart in and around each other like poetic dancers. A song such as "The All Golden" has no clear antecedents. It's musical theater filtered through a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope. The whole work is rich with a sense of place. It feels quintessentially American, but of the sort that celebrates the strong individual voice. This is an album of singular vision and rare beauty.
Professional Reviews
Uncut (p.110) - "Pursuing its own sense of pace and geography, SONG CYCLE is a musical travelogue billowing amid a Joycean stream-of-consciousness..."

The Wire (3/99, pp.62-63) - "...SONG CYCLE appeared...in the foaming wake of PET SOUNDS and SGT. PEPPER. Strange times and a very strange album, highly rated by many cognoscenti....A dense and glorious jungle of color, the arrangements on its short songs push the studio to its limits..."

Goldmine - Highly Recommended
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