Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Beneath the Pavement the Beach!

It's a strange thing to do really; to name your album after another's song; but on hearing the version of Van Dyke Parks' and Brian Wilson's 'Surf's Up' dished up here by Thomas and 'Two Pale Boys' the exclamation mark [!] comes as no surprise. For it is simply stunning!

In the painfully vulnerable but perfectly capable hands of David Thomas (Rocket From the Tombs, Pere Ubu), Parks' words shine in their surreality; the imagery greatly emphasised by Thomas's bizarre delivery; so idiosyncratic he owns it, possesses it, making it his, totally.
And his rendition really does remind the listener as to how far out and imagist the lyric is:

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the op'ra glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping?

Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumpeter swan
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-Step to lamplight cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne

The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port, adieu or die

A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song

Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
A children's song
Have you listened as they played
Their song is love
And the children know the way
That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child
Child, child, child, child, child
Na na na na na na na na
Child, child, child, child, child
That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child


Van Dyke Parks.

To me it's an elegy.
A lament for the world.
The death of nature; and the death of humanity.

And all that is greatly enhanced by Thomas's deeply melancholic delivery.
Genius!

'Surf's Up' isn't the only track to benefit from the peculiar arrangements on this album. The very pared down textures, often featuring no more than voice and melodeon; or at the most: voice, melodeon, guitar and trumpet (there is no percussion at all on this album, only percussive like sounds emanating from either the guitar or trumpet), allow for Thomas to reveal his Pynchonesque view of modern living.

Thomas's narratives are Noir-like (perfectly matched with the trumpet sounds), very much of the city; but a very dark and paranoid city.
The narrative often depicts movement ('Runaway', 'Night Driving' & 'Come Home - Green River'), and the accompanying music captures the journeying theme remarkably well; which makes for a great listen, as Thomas is a wonderful story teller, and like the best incidental music the mood is really enhanced, making these tracks pleasingly visual as well as aural delights.

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys - Surf's Up! (2001)

Runaway
Man in the Dark
Night Driving
Surf's Up
River
Ghosts
Spider in my Stew
Come Home - Green River

David Thomas: voice and melodeon
Keith Moline: guitar
Andy Diagram: trumpet

CD rip, includes artwork.
Wax up the board and hit the Dead Sea here

5 comments:

michaelDUSTdevil said...

don't mind if i do... cheers mate... Mxxx

roy rocket said...

Pleasure.
Hope you like

Anonymous said...

thanks for this one always liked pere ubu,though some of mid 80s stuff ,didnt move me as much.thanks again and as for mr john wardle,faultless.your musical tastes quite eclectic,quite excellant

icastico said...

One of his best.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

somewhere i have a recording of dt & the boys plying live on bbc radio 3's[!] mixing it programmme - will have to dig out

qef