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Album Review: Stranger Things Have Happened

March 27, 2011 by  
Filed under peter



STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED, the first solo effort from
Peter Tork, is a triumph. Wonderful production from Peter and
co-producer James Lee Stanley along with excellent material
beautifully performed by a group of exceptional musicians and
singers, make this a work of talent, taste, and style; one that
makes use of a variety of musical influences, both past and
present. STRANGER THINGS is like nothing else, being very much a
reflection of the artist. Certainly no one but Peter could have
put it all together.

Each song is unique unto itself, offering much to the
listener. And yet, different as they are, the songs fit together
like tiles in a mosaic to to create a complete musical whole.

The title track, by Levine and Rudetsky, is exceptional. With
its reggae/New Age overtones, it catches you and “sticks”. The
lyrics call up images that are at once familiar and fantastic,
and will, if you allow it, carry you away to places rich and
strange indeed. The perfect opening for this album, it sets the
stage for what is to come.

“You Get What You Pay For” is, for many, THE song of the
collection, and it’s certainly deserving of “favorite” status.
It’s rock overtones and the excellent instrumental work by Marc
McClure especially, give it a great musical “hook” and make it

“Sea Change” is lovely, my candidate for the prettiest (in the
BEST sense of that overused word) song here. With it’s soothing
ocean effects and that wondrous guitar work of Peter’s, it has a
smooth, liquid feel that makes it close to perfect. The longest
song on the album, it creates and holds a mood that is relaxing
and dreamlike. The lyric draws you in, sustaining that mood until
the last note. This one is a personal favorite.

“Take A Giant Step”—This version may be better than the
original. The Goffin-King standard is one song that really
benefits from an acoustic treatment. Peter sounds great, and his
playing—especially the guitar solo—is excellent, as always.
Fine back-up by Mackenzie Phillips and Owen Elliot give it a nice
’60’s feel, without lessening its contemporary sound. An
excellent job all around.

Martin Briley’s “Milkshake” is a classic of it’s kind, and
certainly one of the most fun songs to come along in a LONG time.
It’s such a visual tune—whenever I hear it, I “see” it—and
enjoy it more and more. Laurence Juber’s solo is perfect–just
the right touch. Micky and Mike do a terrific job, making this a
special track, and lending just the right sense of humor. And how
nice to hear the three of them together again.

There’s nothing like a good car song, and “MGB-GT” certainly
qualifies. Another fun tune, it flys along like that little red
car once did—smooth and fast, taking you along for quite a
ride. Mike again provides background, and that piano solo—WOW!!
Crank this one up when you hit the road; it’s “driving music” at
it’s best.

“Miracle” is the one for hard rock lovers. Driving beat,
terrific guitar work, interesting lyrics—an excellent example
of this particular rock form. This is the one that may surprise a
lot of people out of their preconceived notions—and isn’t that
the point of the song? Terrific work here by Peter, Tommy Mars,
Pat Holloway and Darren Elpant. A real winner.

“Pirates”. written by Peter’s brother Nick, is excellent. A
great dance tune—upbeat with a fun sound and a great “hook”,
it’s another one that “sticks”. The horns keep it lively, and the
lyrics offer a somewhat bemused look at the trials and
tribulations of “true love”. This is one that you’ll find
yourself singing at unexpected moments.

“Gettin’ In” is the other track that should appeal to those
who like that harder sound. It is deceptively simple in it’s
construction. It builds on a strong bass line, adding keyboards
and guitars to a solid drum presence, making this version so
well-built that the seams are invisible. Top-notch instrumental
work, again by Tommy, Pat and Darren, pulls it together into a
very enjoyable whole.

“Tender Is” is a lovely introspective song whose simple
presentation here enhances its poetic quality. The piano line is
especially well-done, serving to illuminate the lyric while
lending a certain lightness that balances the darker tones of its
theme. A small, perfect gem.

“Higher & Higher”, a great “feel good” song is the perfect way
to close STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. After the “heavier” songs
that preceed it, it does indeed come like the dawn to lighten the
mood. With it’s simple melodic line and upbeat, happy lyric, it
leaves you feeling content and positive. Excellent banjo work by
Peter, as always, and an absolutely bang-up job on background
vocals by James Lee Stanley and Anita Sherman.

Throughout the album, the vocals are uniformly
superior–excellent work from everyone at all times. Peter
himself has never sounded better. His voice, with its warm, easy,
friendly quality has acquired a richer tone—full and smooth and
strong—that is beautifully served by (and serves) his choice of

The production is masterful—neither too much nor too little.
Only what is needed for each song to be heard at its best. An
excellent job by Peter and James Lee Stanley.

The cover art by Peter’s brother Nick suits STRANGER THINGS to
a T. Its bright colors and interesting graphics are real
eye-catchers. And, like both the album, and Peter himself, there
is more to it than meets the eye (or ear) at first. As for the
liner notes….Smart and witty, they assume an intelligence on
the part of the reader/listener that is very welcome. Again,
there is more here than meets the eye….(for example, how many
oblique references can you find to the name “Peter”?)

The whole package, from the cover to the picture disc itself
has obviously been put together with great thought and care. This
is a work that Peter can, and should be proud of. Indeed,
everyone connected with STRANGER THINGS deserves a big
“Congratulations and thanks”. We waited a long time for this, and
they made sure it was well worth the wait.

—–Eva Frizzi—–

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