Monday, April 28, 2008

***Medeski Martin & Wood***

From the organic organ/bass/drum grooves to Jim Stoten's Yellow Submarine-inspired cover illustrations, Let's Go Everywhere is as playful as it is artistic, as fun as it is flawless. The jam band fan base that religiously follow Medeski Martin & Wood on tour will dig this trio's debut kids' album as much as any of the "grownup" CDs they've released, primarily because the band haven't compromised their style or sound or level of musicianship.

If you step back and look at the album as a whole, Let's Go Everywhere is at its core a dance record, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that. Almost half of the 15 tunes are instrumentals, most of which could set the Toddler Time Boogie floor on fire. The mysterious groove of "Cat Creeps", the bound-to-be-a-cake-walk-classic "Where's the Music", the joyful "Let's Go" ... c'mon, man, how could you listen to those songs and sit still?

Then there's the awesome half-time funk of the title tune, MM&W's interpretation of Geoffrey Mack's classic "I've Been Everywhere"; the transformation of "Pat a Cake" from a nursery rhyme into a badass rap (using an editing style explored by the Sursiks); and the rhythmic workout of "Hickory Dickory Dock".

Brooklyn-based MM&W have let their instruments do the talking for them over their 17-year career, so it's interesting to hear on Let's Go Everywhere a couple of tunes with vocal accompaniment. The baritone voice on the title track and the humorously swashbuckling "Pirates Don't Take Baths" belongs to Tim Ingham (rumored to be an alias for Col. Bruce Hampton), and John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards narrates the psychedelic spoken word fairy tale "The Squalb". The band themselves sing on "On an Airplane" and sure-to-be-a-hit-single "The Train Song".

The album is rounded off with what could be the theme from a Japanese western, "Far East Sweets"; the beautiful Americana waltz "Old Paint"; "All Around the Kitchen", a playful celebration of food; and the truly wonderful "We're All Connected", a tune that belongs on a Charlie Brown soundtrack.

A great album for the whole family from another in a growing number of bands crossing over into kiddierock land. "Let's Go Everywhere!", say MM&W. C'mon, what're you waitin' for?

1 comment:

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