Monday, February 05, 2007

***Purple Burt***

Lemme see if I got this right: There's a kid who's purple but invisible, he eats purple soil to stay on his toes mentally, he's color blind but owns a zillion color TVs, his dad is missing, he's in love with a girl named Do-Re-Mimi, he jumps a hope rope and collects inert gasses ... hold on, here's what we'll do. Get your nearest copy of Purple Burt, press play, listen to the first song, and all (well, almost all) will become clear. The first 3-dimensional CD cover ever? I don't know, but the google eyes on the front of Purple Burt only add to the wonderful oddness of this masterpiece.

In the spirit of Harry Nilsson's The Point, Mitch Friedman presents the story of a boy with unique qualities and an interesting collection of family and friends, told with songs and narration. What began as a single song on The Importance of Sauce, one of Friedman's albums for adults, grew into the title song for and storyline of Purple Burt, his first kids' CD. Friedman gets musical assistance on Purple Burt from XTC's Dave Gregory and Andy Partridge, and DIY pioneer R. Stevie Moore. Not only do many of the songs recall Moore's oddball pop brilliance and XTC's jangly psychedelia, you can hear a hint (intentional or no) of kids' musician extraordinaire Mister Laurence in Friedman's delivery and song structure.

Dig the manic doowop of "Wonder Where", the jump rope percussion in "I Hope", the Ween-like "Try This On for Size", the ukulele tear-jerker "I Miss My Daddy". But the chart-topper, the one to tell your friends to add to their ipods, is "Color Feel", a wistfully beautiful pop song about not being able to see colors, but to feel them, instead. Every song is almost like a lyrical "Where's Waldo", with witty lines hidden within tongue twisters and puns, like "If a fish can sniff through water / Could it smell the guy that caught her?", and "Some sillium, some serious / Boron and curious / Half an itty bitty liter / Of some peterpumpkinether". But what makes this whole thing cool is that you've got a kid dealing with acceptance, jealousy, friendship, loss, schoolboy crushes ... you know, all that crap that comes along when you're about, say, nine or ten ... presented under the guise of a goofy kids record.

This is an adventurous and silly CD for your middle-grade kids, but could just as easily be in high rotation on Jersey City's WFMU. Oh, and check out four more Purple Burt-related songs on Friedman's website, along with a teaser message about the possibility of a second CD that will continue Purple Burt's adventures.