Fun for Little Feet (2/16/2001)
Enya, A Day Without Rain (Reprise 2000) - I've never been a big Enya fan, even calling her material "sleepy time music." But A Day Without Rain is an enchanting recording. Enya spins out a sublime combination of romance and melancholy, headlined by the haunting, "Only Time."
Enya is an artist whose sound is now synonymous with an entire genre. A Day Without Rain is a mix of lush harmonies and ethereal atmospherics.
Explain Enya, "The title refers to the mood on a particularly peaceful day on which there was no rain. We do get a lot of rain in Ireland (Enya is a native of county Donegal, Ireland) in all seasons! We had a run of days where it had done nothing but rain. Then one day the sun came out. It was then that I wrote the title track, so what else could I call it?"
In the course of just five albums, Enya (born Eithne Nf Bhraonbin, Celtic for Enya Brennan) has reached superstar status, selling more than 44 million albums (this means that Enya has sold an average of more than 10,000 albums per day since 1988!)
A Day Without Rain is Enya's first collection of new material since 1995's Grammy-winning The Memory of Trees. The 11-track recording was composed by Enya, with production by Nicky Ryan and lyrics by spouse Roma Ryan. Enya has previously stated that without the assistance of the Ryans, "Enya could not exist."
While "Tempus Vernum" has a gothic mood, "Flora's Secret" is more playful, and "Silver Inches" reaches to the strength of Enya's sweeping vocals.
Explains the artist, "As I do all the vocals and harmonies and we do not sample, this obviously takes up a considerable amount of time. Also, as everything you hear on the album is played by me, that too becomes a very long process. Therefore, we are inclined to take much longer in the studio than other people."
Enya rewards those who have waited for A Day Without Rain. Listen for this cathedral of sound.
Soundtrack to Recess: School's Out (Disney Records 2000) - Recess: School's Out is the new animated feature film from Walt Disney Pictures. Based on characters found in ABC's One Saturday Morning, the film follows the adventures of T.J. Detweiler and his evil former principal, Dr. Benedict, who plans to use a laser beam to alter the weather and eliminate summer recess.
Disney digs deep in the vaults for this batch, maybe to get the parents in the movie theater, since the tunes are all a generation-and-a-half-older than the target audience. Get your oldies here.
Ric Louchard, Ragtime Romp (Music for Little People 2000) - Palo Alto-based pianist Ric Louchard returns with his fourth album in the Piano Playtime series for children. Ragtime Romp focuses on the work of Scott Joplin, known as the "King of Ragtime." While the title may be addressed to children, Louchard's skills as a pianist are all grown-up.
Louchard frequently plays before younger audiences, and has previously recorded G'Morning Johann, G'Night Wolfgang, and Hey Ludwig! The album was recorded at Rocky Nevin's Studio in Berkeley, California, and mastered by Tom Carr at the Music Annex in Menlo Park, California.
Louchard describes the impetus for Ragtime Romp as follows: "When I play a piece by Scott Joplin, the children snap out of their reverie and look up from their drawings, clearly fascinated. It's what Joplin referred to as an 'intoxicating' quality in its syncopated rhythms that is startling and beguiling."
Louchard continues. "It was this response that led me to make this recoding. Sometimes dancing with joy, sometimes deeply introspective, sometimes filled with a sweet aching quality, this music has a range of expression that is rich and varied. "
Ragtime Romp features 12 tracks, all written between 1901 and 1910. While the songs range from "Heliotrope Bouquet (A Slow Drag Two-Step)" to "Solis (A Mexican Serenade)" to "Bethena (A Concert Waltz)," they are all instantly recognizable as ragtime.
Louchard is a skilled player, and his interpretations are delightful. Im not sure how much children, used to the hurly burly of Disney and Nickelodeon, will appreciate these solo piano efforts. But lovers of good music performed by a skilled and knowledgeable performer will enjoy Ragtime Romp.
Write the artist at: Rlouchard@aol.com
Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson (Rhino/Warner Archives 2000) - Brian Wilson's 1988 solo recording has been out of print for several years, which is a shame, because the album marked a true return for Brian. Now re-issued by Rhino, the album includes bonus tracks and extensive liner notes by Beach Boys historian David Leaf.
Brian Wilson was originally released with a major media push. The Beach Boys leader had exercised his personal demons, and looked better than he had in years. The album was filled with gems, including "Love and Mercy," "Melt Away," and "Let it Shine."
The reissue reflects the artist's innate sweetness and emotions. Which is where I draw a quarrel with the new issue. All traces of Dr. Eugene Landy, the psychologist/swami who helped restore Brian's sanity, have been excised. The original imprint listed Dr. Landy as "executive producer"; the new issue does not contain any reference to him, even in the liner notes.
Say what you may about Dr. Landy (who ultimately lost his license in California), he had a profound influence in empowering Brian to the studio. Make no mistake, the music is all Brian's, with help from such trusted friends as Andy Paley, Russ Titelman, Lenny Waronker, and Jeff Lynne. Yet Brian needed a push to get back in the studio, which came from Dr. Landy.
Brian Wilson contains the 11 original studio tracks, together with 14 additional cuts, including short interviews with Brian, four non-album singles, and seven previously unreleased demos or alternate tracks.
While I count myself as a Brian Wilson fan, I was disappointed by this re-issue: The extra tracks are really bootleg material. Fans would have been better served by the original album, supplemented by the additional liner notes.
- Randy Krbechek © 2001
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