Australian author and illustrator Graeme Base's books are all musical, but The Worst Band in the Universe
(with its accompanying 25-minute CD) clearly trumpets the loudest... in a Blippian
sort of way. Like The Eleventh Hour
, The Sign of the Seahorse
, and Animalia
, Worst Band
takes place in a nonhuman context, this time in a dystopian planetary system far from Earth.
The premise is this: Sprocc, expert at the guitarlike splingtwanger, has the creative itch to write songs. But alas, his planet, Blipp, has strict creative rules about music. All songs must come directly from tradition, so Sprocc's desire to "call the tune... or else forsake the stage" leads to his exile from Blipp and a variety of galactic run-ins with authority. This includes the "Worst Band in the Universe" contest which, of course, is actually a best band contest that takes him deeper into dismal realms. Sprocc sharpens his musical delivery, hooks up with another long-time Blipp exile, and eventually the planet is freed from the rigorous creative restrictions with a mix of innovation and tradition.
In the tangle of rhyming couplets and fantastical illustrations is plenty of food for thought. On a purely musical level, The Worst Band in the Universe is an instructive volume, complete with a CD of Blippian music. It's a profound creation, conjured so that its ingredients will reward scrutiny. (Ages 7 and older) --Andrew Bartlett
From Publishers Weekly
The author of Animalia expresses a determined nonconformism in this multimedia package, which pits oldies fans against experimental musicians. Beneath the sulfur-orange skies of Planet Blipp, a reptilian Musical Inquisitor fills the airwaves with official Ancient Songs, while Sprocc, an amphibious-looking 13-year-old, challenges the law. "There's more to playing music than the notes upon the page./ I have to call the tune myself, or else forsake the stage," the upstart decides. With his Splingtwanger (think souped-up double-necked guitar) in hand, Sprocc joins an illicit rock group and competes for the title of "The Worst [i.e., most innovative] Band in the Universe"Abut his victory is short-lived. The contest is a sham, and the winners are imprisoned on a slimy, viney planet where they meet other vanished rebel rockers from years past. With relentless rhyme and quirky neologism (jamming is "meshing," and cool dudes are "groobs"), Base explains how Sprocc and the gang triumph over their Orwellian plight. His deliriously detailed panoramas feature decaying postmodern architecture and smooth-skinned, bug-eyed creatures of endless variety; the original Star Wars cantina scene comes to mind. This junior rock-opera even includes a CD recording of the band competition, complete with canned cheers and 1980s synth-rock stylings. Base's imaginative effort, roiling with hot colors and intergalactic weirdness, will baffle traditionalists even as it thrills budding iconoclasts. All ages. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.