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A reissue of the 1967 Twink album - renamed Wink at the request of author ROBERT SHURE, who first published the poems read here at City Lights in 1957 - from legendary vocal beat/jazz crafter KEN NORDINE. Recorded by Nordine as if talking to himself with one voice recorded dry, the other recorded with effects.
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It's certainly less pedestrian than Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In "Joke Wall" with go-go music between quips, but the giggle/think ratio is kind of high, like that. The inverse ratio is more to my taste, for example a Billy Collins reading (The Best Cigarette or A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space) -- though of course he's missing The Voice. So "Wink" is pleasant in small doses, but arguably "beat", and not really "poetry". I regret spending any more than ten clams for what is essentially light entertainment. Borrow this from the library or listen to [...] unless you're a rabid fan, or can get a bargain for just a few molluscs. (Maybe "Word Jazz" CDs will be re-issued someday; Amazon's [...] subsidiary has downloads but who wants to pay more and get less? Besides, they don't have track lists so I have no way of knowing if The Walrus & The Carpenter is even available...)
This collection of brief recordings diverges from the rest of Ken's catalog in that the material comes from Robert Shure rather than Ken's own wonder-wandering. There's an element of overlap that makes the two compatible but Shure stays on the light path without coursing into any of the gravitas or alternate realities so prevalent in Ken's own material.
These recordings work best if you include them in a large playlist and put it on shuffle. Playing it as a CD straight through, these short tracks get to be repetitious very quickly. The content generally amounts to a tennis match between the speaker and his inner voice: a statement, a question, a twist or punchline, and a rimshot. One or two tracks at a time are clever but after about five it teeters from whimsy into cutesy. Although the bits contain the nutrition of metaphors, allusions, or double-entendres, it's like reading a stack of greeting cards, or hearing a stand up comedian peppering off a raft of one liners.
Still, I'm glad Asphodel reissued this and Ken's other mid-sixties album, Colors. I would just recommend getting Ken's recordings of his own material first.
This album is an example of spoken word at its finest. Highly recommended.
I can't make that sound reasonable, but word jazz pioneer Ken Nordine can and does make this and other impractical or philosophical amusements sound perfectly melodious with his stunning baritone voice. Here Nordine collaborates with poet and author Robert Shure in a collection of verbal meanderings that remind me vaguely of a Captain Beefheart song reinterpreted by Dr. Seuss. These 34 tracks are like a time capsule from 1967: they are truly mind-stretching, but aren't pretentious. They are fun and absolutely ridiculous, but are equally thought-provoking.
I have numerous favorites in this collection: "Freckles" ("My shoehorn has freckles...,") "Cellophane" ("I threw away my cellophane shoes...I was sick and tired of people looking at my toes...,") "Apple Cider" (geniuses drink it intellectually, of course,) "Gabardine" (I am especially amused by the music underpinning Ken's wondering "Do you like gabardine potatoes,?") and of course the classic "Lampshades" which begins with this dialogue "'How often do you lick lampshades?'...'Every other Tuesday.'...'Why so seldom?'" How can argue with genius like that?
I love the two part challenge and response dialogue technique used to great effect here (both parts of the dialogue courtesy of Nordine, of course,) and find this to be among Nordine's most playful and entertaining works (also highly recommended: "Colors," my personal favorite.) Ken has a voice that's instantly recognizable and is a pleasure to listen to, whether he's pontificating on neuter zebras or the Sidewalk Crack-Drawers Society. Here you can find both of those musings and much more. I recommend it highly to people wanting an upbeat, humorous, and thought-provoking take of beat poetry.
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