Peter Tork

Stranger Things Have Happened

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No one's going to believe it, but this is a good album, from Peter Tork no less. Most of the songs are sung with passion and the voice is much better than it was on, say, "Shades of Gray" 28 years earlier. What's more, Tork reveals himself as a solid rocker, starting from a folk idiom but working with lots of wattage on the instruments and no trace of wimpy singer/songwriter affectation in the playing. A few notable friends are aboard in addition to his direct collaborator and co-producer, James Lee Stanley -- Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Mackenzie Phillips, and Timothy B. Schmit among them. There are songs drawn from across the spectrum of Tork's career, including a gorgeous, folk-style cover of "Take a Giant Step" that made this reviewer smile so emphatically it was mixed with tears of joy; the exquisitely funny "Milkshake," a delightfully wry account of life on the road that includes Nesmith and Dolenz and some of the most charmingly silly choruses ever heard in a legitimate rock song; "MGB-GT," a very personal car song that may be particularly potent to middle-aged survivors of the 1960s; and "Higher and Higher," a folk/gospel song on which Tork mostly plays acoustic banjo, and which is so beguiling that one wishes he'd do an entire album in that idiom, style, and sound. Not every song here is quite that good, and three of the numbers probably could have been dispensed with, but eight out of 11 isn't bad.

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