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David Thomas & the Pedestrians "Big Dreams"
David Thomas & the Pedestrians "Who Is It?"

A while back, in a bid to foil UMG's dastardly efforts to get people to buy the same damned album twice, I prevailed upon members of a music list I subscribe to to burn me a copy of the second, "bonus" disc included in the second edition of Elvis Costello's The Delivery Man. A noble soul responded, defying the RIAA, and in exchange, he mentioned that he'd love to hear more of David Thomas's solo work (he also mentioned Captain Beefheart and twentieth-century classical, among other music; naturally, I had to make a mix that combined all three).

Unfortunately, at the time I only had a couple of Thomas's solo items on ratty old cassette tapes dubbed from LPs. So, realizing that the first five Thomas CDs were out on the Monster box set (not counting Winter Comes Home - which, you see, "never existed"), I bought that. (If the RIAA is counting, this means I purchased a 4-CD box set, motivated by my refusal to purchase a single-priced release I already owned. I think they came out ahead on this one.)

It was a joy to revisit these recordings, and I'd forgotten how musical they were - well, "musical" once you accept that that's Thomas's voice and that's just the way it is. "Big Dreams" features Richard Thompson on guitar playing over what sounds rather like jazz as written by a musician who'd never actually heard jazz. I love the goofy stop-n-go rhythm (with Thomas himself playing traffic cop) and Philip Moxham's bass double-stopping, as well as the wandering muted trumpet interlude in the middle. "Who Is It?" features Lindsay Cooper's bassoon, a nice subtle piano line, and something that might be a blues interlude except it isn't quite. Uh-and it's mostly in 13/8 - those wacky British progsters and their odd-numbered time signatures.

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