Tuesday, January 29, 2008

***Gustafer Yellowgold***

How do you top a masterpiece? Well, you produce another masterpiece that explores even more deeply the title character's background and personality, via dreamy and intelligent pop music. We found out about the Wide Wild World of Gustafer Yellowgold earlier last year, and now we're asked Have You Never Been Yellow? in Morgan Taylor's second installment of our hero's adventures.

From the lighter-hoisting anthem "Pinecone Lovely" to the deeply introspective "The Bluebird Tree" to the hilarious "The Mustard Slugs", Morgan lays upon us more soooperpop tunes full of thoughtful, witty, and psychedelically descriptive lyrics. Trust, death, the desire for one's unique comfort zone in the universe, family, and mathematics are dealt with on Yellow, always through the eyes and imagination of a child.

In this second CD/DVD of all things Yellowgold, we find that Gustafer loves pine cones ... as food, as clothing, as messages sent through the mail. And that birds would dearly love to trade their singing skills for mankind's secret to longevity, and their ability to trust one another. The shuffling "Beard for All Seasons" promotes the virtues of quarterly beard ownership, while Gustafer battles bugs for his scrumptious maize in "Aye, Aphid". The spacious, dusty "The Cactus Calls" disarms a sheriff with a big kiss on the mouth, and "The Mustard Slugs" is the funniest song about digit placement you will ever hear, hands down.

On Wide Wild World, we learned about Gustafer's love of jumping on cakes, and this time around we find that he's mad about "Punching Cheese", another hobby on the verge of an obsessive compulsive fetish. And when you only "Dream in Green", it changes your perception of your surroundings: The moon is a Granny Smith apple, stars are limes. By the way, this song was originally the title tune on Taylor's 2003 album for grownups, which also included the original version of Wide Wild World's "I'm From the Sun".

Taylor is fast becoming a highly admired superstar in the children's music world, not only because of his animation and musical talents, but also because he completely respects his young audiences, to the point where the tunes and words you hear on his albums are more imaginative and well-constructed than most "adult" songs. Check out this line from "Punching Cheese": "Holey Swiss, How art thou hangin'?, With gloves I'm clangin', A lovely wedge of thee". And the choruses of, well, pretty much every song on the CD are well worth the price of admission. This album will have you singing along with your little one, I promise (and to yourself on the way to work!).

And those are only the CD highlights! The DVD is a treasure on its own, full of iconographic animations of every song on the CD. Taylor experimented with layering the artwork on this project, giving the pictures a more three dimensional look. A very cool bonus feature is Taylor's audio comments, detailing his storyline and musical ideas, and describing the visuals that accompany each song.

This is a must-have, people. Buy three copies of Yellow: One for your own family, one for a friend, and one for your local public library. Soon, everyone in the world will be singing, "Piiiine Cone Looooovely, To Thee I Siiiiiiiing!!


Anonymous said...

Really love this thing. Thank you.

Jeff - OWTK said...

Couldn't agree more. You really nailed this review..."Have You Never Been Yellow?" is a great work.

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