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King Platypus - Life's a Mess. Let's Dance

Life's A Mess, Let's Dance

King Platypus


A.V. Fistula Music
26 Glen Circle
Erdenheim, Pa. 19805

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I've always had a small soft spot for talented goofball / goodtime bands and this is definitely one of them. The New Duncan Imperials, Ham Sandwich, Root Boy Slim, anyone who knows their way around an instrument and can provide a wry break from normalcy is an ensemble I'm interested in. King Platypus is a combo determined to put a smile on your face and swing in your step, and, with the loose prowess displayed here, that's a foregone conclusion. Jake Michaels' voice is saccharine a la Dean Friedman crossed with James Taylor, high register but mellifluously smooth, and Jim Harris' cello playing's a real asset, providing the perfect midground between bass and guitar not often exhibited in any style.

The band admits to a welter of influences and incorporates even more than they cite: Dan Hicks, B-52s, Martin Mull, Jimmy Buffett, swing, mambo, calypso, pop, jug, even a brief Mersey intro to Going Down to Delaware! Four members play guitar so it's a tad difficult to determine who's handling what from cut to cut (if ya snag the liner notes, it becomes labyrinthinely do-able), but drummer Daoud Shaw was with the original Saturday Night Live band and toured with Van Morrison and Jerry Garcia, so an indicator of the instrumental level of this band is identified through him. He also recorded the release in his home studio.

Lotsa covers and steals here: Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land", Rodgers & Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" and "People Will Say We're in Love" lead off. Then there's America the Beautiful—ironically, when you consider the effects of Manifest Destiny, sung in Spanish—and Oh Margaret, melodically O Danny Boy with new lyrics (and ya almost caught those high notes there, Jake), while Blasted, a great little paean to the inebriated life ("Blasted, fun while it lasted / It just lasted too long!"), starts out with Rikki Don't Lose That Number's bass signature

King Platypus is the sort of talented highed-ended amateur band you hope to catch at the local bar & grill, where locals can quaff a few brews and dig the tunes in a boisterously communal atmosphere. Michael plays some exotic instruments (ukelele, cavaquinho, dulcimer, cuatro, mando) and is the lynchpin the rest of the players lean into, Ray Duffy and Chuck Anderson supplying more strings while Eileen Tipping drops background vocals into the mix. If you wanted a CD to tap to, sing along with, or just sit down and grin at, you've come to the right place.

Track List:

  • Life's A Mess, Let's Dance (James Harris / John Michael)
  • My Favorite Things (Rodgers & Hammerstien)
  • Gotta Make Hay (James Harris / John Michael)
  • Blasted (James Harris / John Michael)
  • The Answer is Yes (James Harris / John Michael)
  • This Land is Your Land / Oh Them Golden Slippers (Woody Guthrie)
  • Going Down to Delaware (James Harris / John Michael)
  • People Will Say We're in Love
  • Oh Margaret (James Harris / John Michael)
  • Business and Pleasure (James Harris / John Michael)
  • America Linda / America the Beautiful / American Cantata (public domain; James Harris / John Michael)
  • Go to Sleep (James Harris / John Michael / Madeleine Kasemichael)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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