With a style rooted in classical know-how but guided by a restless, fluid vision of American music, Van Dyke Parks has been the unseen hand in some remarkable projects. He's best known for his lyrical contributions to the Beach Boys' long-buried Smile LP, but his own albums, especially the kitchen-sink daydream Song Cycle and the Calypso love letter Discover America, show a beguiling voice intertwined with ringing steel drums, wheezing musettes and clangorous tack pianos. Parks has been enjoying a much-deserved renaissance of late, with new songs transmitted via 7-inch singles and older studio work collected on the fascinating Arrangements, Vol. 1. An American master is finally getting his due, but this current tour will hardly feel like a victory lap for an artist who has never stopped creating.
Idol Worship: Openers Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra, along with members of Theodore, paid tribute to Parks with a set at 2010's An Under Cover Weekend.