This is the debut recording by the esoteric Madison group Reptile Palace Orchestra. An independent album, Early Reptile was initially released in 1995 and years later reissued by Beeftone Records, an independent label from Madison, WI. The beginning stages of this band saw their offbeat world music vision just materializing. The highly produced and complex sound synonymous with their two subsequent studio albums wasn't necessarily found here. While their unusual selection of instruments and song styles contributes to RPO's uniqueness, on Early Reptile a simpler and more stripped-down sound prevailed. Three selections from Iguana Iguana were originally unveiled on this album: "Gankino Horo," "Enchanted Reptile Palace," and "Speak Softly Love." The remainder of this 19-track album is comprised of their usual array of European and Latin American traditional songs interspersed with a bevy of unlikely pop pieces written by the likes of Doc Pomus, James Brown, and Bryan Ferry. In addition, engaging pieces by bandmembers Seth Blair, Bill Feeny, and Biff Blumfumgagnge complete this album in unique fashion. Clearly, even in their formative years Reptile Palace Orchestra was a creative ensemble and this recording is a scrumptious foretelling of what lay in the wait.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger