Album of the Day
As lyricist for The Beach Boys' SMILE, Van Dyke Parks shared Brian Wilson's ambition, deep knowledge of American music and sense of fun – all things that would come in handy on Parks' own DISCOVER AMERICA. The 1972 Warner Bros. set (the singer-songwriter's second) is an eccentric and thoroughly entertaining history lesson told entirely through other people's songs. Though there are covers of roots music heroes Allen Toussaint and Little Feat, the bulk of the collection's 16 tracks are pre-WWII public domain compositions. Bing Crosby, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and actor Jack Palance are among the many characters celebrated in these masterful arrangements, which are based on the calypso music of Trinidad. Like its namesake country, Van Dyke Parks' DISCOVER AMERICA is by turns strange, inspiring and beautiful.