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Lou and Peter Berryman - The Pink One

The Pink One

Lou & Peter Berryman

Cornbelt Records, 2003

Lou & Peter Berryman
Box 3400
Madison, WI 53704

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michael Devlin

For those already familiar with the work of these Wisconsin based singer-songwriters, please skip ahead to the next paragraph. For those of you who are not, Peter and Lou Berryman are the best (or only) formerly married, guitar and accordion duo who remember the '60s on the planet. Peter plays pleasantly on guitar and sings in a wryly half-spoken manner. Lou sings in the soprano range while her accordion supplies the bulk of the musical backing. For some, this may be the description of prototypical folk music hell. Well, you can stop easing away from Peter and Lou, because they are comic geniuses and consummate songwriters and performers. They specialize in lampooning the human condition with an amazingly refined aim for such a large target. They score major laughs so often that you have to play their songs over and over to discover what you laughed through. For all the sharpness of their wit, the songs are good-natured, which may explain why they wear so well on repeated listenings.

This is the Berrymans' fourteenth recording, and fans should know that The Pink One must be considered one of their best. This album is so consistently appealing from beginning to end that it is hard to pick out just a few songs to give you a taste of their work. Mr. and Mrs. Noah features the biblical couple trading verses about which animals to bring on the ark. The devil is in the animals that were left behind. Mrs. Noah sings,
How you gonna populate the world without the transcendental
Yelping of the yunchies in the caverns off Belize?
The Thinsulated bulges of their oscillation bellies making
Ripples in the undertow below your dungarees.

Noah answers,
What good are they for though they wander glumly to the traps
They make a mess, they're self-important and they're hard to get to know?
Besides their being petulant they wander across the Earth
Digesting boxcars of plutonium and peeing h20.

Imagine that you are driving in Wisconsin, starting in a rural area and proceeding through K-Mart infested suburbs to discount mall murdered down-towns and back out to the farms. If you named the things that went by, you would have Bird Bird Bird.
Bird, bird, bird, bird, cow, cow; bird, bird, bird. bird, cow, cow.
...Speed zone thirty, Walmart, Walmart, Walmart, Walmart.
...Empty storefront, plywood; plywood, plywood, plywood.
You get the picture in less than a thousand words.

"Let Me Know" lists deliriously funny personal quirks (that one suspects are somewhat first-person confessional) and ties them together with the chorus
Oh but incident'ly y'afta tell me gently
I'm a little mentally bent consequently
It could be a nearly fatal blow, but I hope you let me know.

Other songs deal with conditional atheism, America's safety net (the right to live in your car), Metropolitan Scruples, Stephen Hawking's universe and the power company. Ralph to Rose finds true equality through a dog's eyes, because "Everybody's Ralph to Rose." There is also a song about a song that causes insomnia that predictably lodges in your head for days.

I've played this album for children and in-laws. I certify it as a foolproof hit for people of all musical tastes or lacks thereof.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2003, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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