Patrick & Eugene

Postcard from Summerisle

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This reviewer picked up this U.K. import on a whim, mostly based on its packaging, apparent instrumentation, and sheer weirdness, and he wasn't disappointed -- Postcard from Summerisle is one of those records, like Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle or Brian Wilson's SMiLE, that loves to bust up and intermingle musical boundaries, and constantly surprise and delight the listener. From the opening bars of "The Birds & the Bees" -- with Simon Eames' banjo figure (sounding like a Bo Diddley beat transposed to a late-'20s pop number) backed by Eugene Bezodis' various horns and other blown instrumental flourishes -- the convergence of influences just pours off of this CD like a torrent: Cockney-flavored punk brushing up against reggae and ska, and Middle Eastern rhythms. In its most conventional moment, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song" is stuck amid numbers like "Old Times" (picture Ray Davies impersonating Noël Coward with the Chris Barber band backing him up) and the percussion showcase "Circus Train" (featuring the Groove Armada band backing the duo). And somewhere in back of it all lurks a sense of humor reminiscent of the Bonzo Dog Band. Beyond the joyous, cheerful vibe that informs this whole record, one of the elements that makes this CD so compelling is that it is played so well, as rock, jazz, or whatever -- the rhythm section in whatever form it takes on a particular song is impressive on this own terms, and while it might be difficult for Patrick & Eugene to emulate this sound live, it would probably also be worth hearing, assuming it could be done.

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