A 1995 album by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, Orange Crate Art was eagerly awaited, as not only was it the first new album by Wilson since 1988's Brian Wilson album (although I Just Wasn't Made For These Times came out at the same time), but it was the first real project the two had worked on since the aborted SMiLE album in 1967.

While equally credited to the two, Orange Crate Art is clearly more of a Parks album than a Wilson. Parks writes or co-writes every track (except Lullaby by George Gershwin and This Town Goes Down At Sunset by Michael Hazelwood), produces and arranges, while Wilson merely provides lead vocals. However, this is no bad thing - Parks is a genius, and this album is one of his best. It's warm and lush, and manages to convey a nostalgia both for the California that Wilson used to sing about and for an earlier period in American history. Parks' 'Americana' style of arranging suits these songs perfectly - the only quibble I have with the arrangements is the faux-orientalism of Palm Tree And Moon

In fact, the principal defect of this album is Wilson's voice. He tends to 'holler' rather than sing on some tracks, and his singing is slurred. His vocals have since improved, but I still far prefer Parks' live renditions of these songs (which can be heard on Parks' Moonlighting: Live At The Ash Grove).

But this is a minor nitpick, and seeing these two great artists work together again, and on such a wonderful album, is worth any number of quibbles.

Tracklist:


  1. Orange Crate Art
  2. Sail Away
  3. My Hobo Heart
  4. Wings Of A Dove
  5. Palm Tree And Moon
  6. Summer In Monterey
  7. San Francisco
  8. Hold Back Time
  9. My Jeanine
  10. Movies Is Magic
  11. This Town Goes Down At Sunset
  12. Lullaby

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