Bob Pyle

Apples & Oranges

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With his folksy charm and uncertain pitch, Bob Pyle comes off more as a good-natured amateur entertainer than a man whose biography says he has been a songwriter and performer for over 25 years. But then, that may help explain why this is his first full-length solo CD, self-released at that. Initially, Pyle seems as much a comedian and novelty act as a musician, leading off the disc with "A World Made Out of Spam," a humorous nightmare set to music about a scientific experiment gone wrong. Even here, however, as on the second track, "When They Close the Golden Arches," on which he is joined by a children's chorus, Pyle has a more serious agenda: he is a food activist. The "Golden Arches," of course, refers to McDonald's, and the song is a fantasy about how much better the world will be when the fast-food giant goes out of business, leading to much better diets worldwide. The songwriter is not afraid to name names, either. Another song is called "Frank Perdue," and Pyle pulls no punches in spelling out his dislike of the chicken mogul, whom he accuses of looking like his product while not living up to his claims for nutrition and proper treatment of animals. It's no wonder, then, that he expands this critique to include the entire agriculture business in "Factory Style." But he isn't only critical; he also admits to past dietary mistakes of his own and promotes a healthy diet of "Apples & Oranges," not to mention the misunderstood seaweed ("The Seaweed Song") and mangoes ("The Mango Fandango"). All of this food and animal commentary is rendered in a combination of folk and old-timey country styles, with catchy choruses and plenty of fingerpicked string instruments. Pyle doesn't have much of a singing voice, but he doesn't seem to care, as long as he can get out his agreeable message; he's the Woody Guthrie of the barnyard (and the orchard) on his first album, which almost deserves to be placed in the children's bin of the record store.

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