Looking like a Bonzo Dog Band version of Gandalf and the hobbits on the cover—by way of Gong's pixies and elves, that is—but sounding, in the lead cut, like Principle Edwards Magic Theater crossed with Incredible String Band sitting in with The Long Hello (1st LP), lead-guy mannered-loon Chandler Travis has been knocking about for quite a while. You may have caught him in the 70s in Travis, Shook, and The Club Wow (way cool shit) or in the 80s with the Incredible Casuals (a lot like The Replacements, from the vids I've seen), but now you can drop in on the guy in one of three ways: the Chandler Travis Philharmonic (9 members, I guess that's enuff, someone ask Lenny Bernstein), The Catbirds (whose sound most reviews seem to agree is best embodied in the adjective 'bludgeoning'), and this ensemble, the three, no make that four, uh, better say five-member Chandler Travis Three-O.
On the reverse cover, Chandler dons yet another disguise, looking like Sun Ra dropped on top of Doctor John, but the music these chaps emit is quite varied. Make the Small Things Pretty sounds like a slice of 60s Frisco/Haight folk with World ornaments, then drops into Camel Passing through the Eye of a Needle, a really pleasant instrumental coming off like a Penguin Cafe Orchestra barbled out on absinthe, ramping down tempo even more in its follower, Born to Disappear, a surrogate snapshot of John Martyn after getting up in the morning, right before his cuppa java, a song extending itself into Take Me with You and a cool John Clark (not the ECM guy) bass line.
A lot of this CD is dreamy, and Berke McKelvey knows how to lay back with his clarinet and sax as Fred Boak and Chandler take the vocals, John and Berke joining in here and there. Zoe is a really enjoyable jazz goof with airs of chamber slouching about. Stuck has a Gatsby vibe to it, a mellow Flapper Era thing lighting on McKelvey's clarinet, but everywhere there's a palpable sense of good humor regardless. Perhaps that comes of Club Wow touring with George Carlin for many years as well as appearing on The Dick Cavett Show and Midnight Special. Regardless, Travis and the boys go in any number of directions, but I'm telling you here and now that were they to be picked up to score a feel-good humorous traveloguey type flick, that'd be one hellishly righteous easy-on-the-ears-and-mind gig.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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