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Splendor in the Grass

4.4 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Splendor in the Grass
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Audio CD, October 27, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

2009 release from the the genre-bending, best-selling, supremely talented, and raucously fun 12-piece ensemble. Splendor In The Grass truly encapsulates the band's history and spirit of global collaboration and inclusivity. Comprised of nine original songs and four covers (with songs in English, Neapolitan, Italian, French and Spanish), it features appearances by the 90-year-old Mexican Ranchera singer, Chavela Vargas, Emilio Delgado (aka "Luis" from Sesame Street), NPR Justice Correspondent Ari Shapiro and Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ninna nanna
  2. Ohayoo Ohio (Hello Ohio)
  3. Splendor in the Grass
  4. Où est ma tête?
  5. And Then You're Gone
  6. But Now I'm Back
  7. Sunday Table
  8. Over the Valley
  9. Tuca tuca
  10. Bitty Boppy Betty
  11. Sing
  12. Piensa en mi
  13. New Amsterdam
  14. Ninna nanna [Reprise]

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 27, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B002Q9PM24
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,576,810 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 31, 2009
Format: Audio CD
How do you describe this band to folks who have never seen them? Let's see, they write and sing songs in sing songs in French, Italian, Spanish and English. They sound like 50s cocktail music sometimes and like 90s jazz sometimes. The two lead members both went to Harvard and the composer/pianist is a musical genius. And they come from, of all places, Portland, Oregon!

The only way to really explain them is to play a few tracks from their CDs.. or better yet... see them LIVE in concert (nearly all of which seem to sell out!).

This is their fourth album and the word continues to spread. I was anxiously awaiting this disc and am not disappointed! (Well, maybe because of two tracks .... more on that in a minute). All the elements of their previous albums are there from the multi-lingual songs crafted by either lead singer China Forbes or collaborator Alex Marashian (who is responsible for 5 of the 13 songs here) to the great arrangements by co-leader Thomas Lauderdale. Though a couple of songs are sung in languages other than English (the translations are included in the booklet included.).

I really hated to drop my rating to a 4 but there are two tracks that seemed out of place. It was great that they got the staff in their office to join in on the track "Sing" (the Sesame Street/Carpenters song), but the song is so saccharine that even PM can't make it palatable on repeated listening. The other track that doesn't work as well is "Piensa en m", where 90 year old Mexican singer Chavela Vargas (artist Frida Kahlo's lover) provides the vocals. Her aged voice is a far cry from the dulcet tones of China Forbes and the musical flow stops when she follows the "Sing: track.
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Format: Audio CD
I heard about this CD the day before it came out. I eagerly sampled the tracks on Amazon and came away thinking maybe Pink Martini had jumped the shark with this one. But then I remembered that I almost didn't buy Hey Eugene based on listening to the samples, so I bought it a couple of days later. I don't want to go through it track by track, but my general impressions are:

The first two tracks were what I have come to expect from Pink Martini. The musicianship is excellent and the music is innovative and fun. Then "Splendor in the Grass" came on and I thought, "Whoa! Here's where we part company." The lyrics are weak and the melody is bland. Midway through, they break into my favorite piece by Tschaikovsky and suddenly I was back on board, at least part way. After several more listenings, though, this one is a definite miss. It is puzzling that a band the caliber of Pink Martini would choose to record such a mediocre track.

It was evident what "And Then You're Gone" and "But Now I'm Back" were going to be just from reading the titles. This is a musical cliche that has been done to death in pop music at least since the sixties. But I found myself chuckling in places the first time through, so I guess they pull it off. "But Now I'm Back" nearly crosses the line into a novelty song, so the jury is still out on how it will hold up to repeated listening.

They lost me again at "Sing". They do this song as well as anyone I have ever heard, but some songs are so bad even Pink Martini can't fix them. Out of their four CD's, this is only the second of their tracks that won't take up space on my Zune.

"New Amsterdam" is a strange little song. Fortunately, I like strange little songs. Sometimes.
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Format: Audio CD
I love, love, love Pink Martini. I was entralled with Sympathique. I adored Hang On Little Tomato. It's one of my all-time favorites. Hey, Eugene was excellent, but not quite as good as the others. I was excited when this CD came out. But I've listened to it at least 15 times since it was released and I'm forced to conclude that I just don't know what to make of this mess. At least 4 of the songs are either unimaginative or poorly performed novelty pieces. Others are little more than saccharin 1950's Muzak. Chavela Vargas, who guests on "Piensa en mi," has a voice that is so shot as to be unlistenable. There is not a single piece of music here that I have any desire to listen to again.

But the heart of the problem with this CD is the palpable lack of energy, enthusiasm and effort. The arrangements lack originality and complexity. The vocals, aside from China Forbes, are weak; and even she seems uninspired. The musicianship, normally Pink Martini's strength, is lackluster at best. They all seem so bored by the whole thing.

I certainly hope Pink Martini can get their mojo back and come up with some creative, exciting material for their next effort.
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Format: Audio CD
I have been anxiously awaiting this new album after I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl last month. They performed so many of these new tracks and it brings back that wonderful night.

I highly recommend this to ANY Pink Martini fan - it might be my favorite so far (although Hang On Little Tomato would be a close second). This album has that wonderful feel of the mid to late 60s (a bit of a Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass touch. Its has several fun songs and many of their usual beautiful arrangements with clever call backs to amazing composers.

Over the Valley stands out (as it did at the Hollywood Bowl - you could hear a pin drop as she and Thomas delicately floated through one of the best original written melodies since Moon River).

Thank you for this fantastic album. This will carry me for a good year!

THOMAS AND CHINA - I am sure you need a break BUT GET BACK TO WORK on the next collection of amazing pieces of work! We love you!
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