Five things to love about this video for "Cousins," a song recorded a couple weeks ago in New York by Dean Jones, Grenadilla, and Recess Monkey. 1. Dean Jones 2. Grenadilla 3. Recess Monkey 4. The fact that these three groups got together to write and record a song. 5. The discussion of "homophone." Dean Jones, Grenadilla, Recess Monkey - "Cousins" [YouTube]
I can't say that "Do You Wanna Know My New Dance Step?" was my favorite song off Dog on Fleas' Beautiful World CD (or even their Bestest of the Best greatest hits collection. (In fact, I much prefer "The Moon Song," heard in the intro to this video and found on the greatest hits CD as well as their please-get-it-post-haste When I Get Little.) But is this a way cute video that makes me appreciate the song much more? Most definitely. (I particularly dig the ending.) Consider it the sequel to Newsies. Dog on Fleas - "Do You Wanna Know My New Dance Step?" [YouTube]
Is it uncharitable of me to say I don't understand why Dog on Fleas hasn't had greater popular success? I mean, that statement implies a) that Dog on Fleas hasn't achieved tremendous success, and b) the American family-music-buying public is clueless (or, alternately, c) that I'm clueless). All the things that are part of the family-music success of, say, Dan Zanes or Elizabeth Mitchell -- the organic musical arrangements, the rescuing of lost parts of the American and world songbook, the hooks -- are right there. And certainly fellow musicians such as Mitchell and Uncle Rock know the Fleas and its chief songwriter Dean Jones and hold 'em in high esteem. I'm hoping that The Bestest of the Best, the perfectly-titled greatest hits compilation of the New York band will help rectify the situation with the general public. It's a 20-song collection of tunes stretching all the way back to the first Fleas' album, Fairly Good Songs for Fairly Good Kids, and a fine introduction to the band's happy blend of folk, pop, and other funkier styles. I gravitated towards the selections from my favorite Fleas' album, When I Get Little, but there are other excellent tracks from other albums there, too -- the jazz-hipster "Dig" from Fairly Good Songs, for example, or the sweet, lazy, indie-pop of "Clouds" from Hoi Polloi. The album also includes 3 newly re-recorded versions of old songs plus their great rendition of "Buffalo Gals" with Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton from the overlooked High Meadow Songs release. In best Dan Zanes fashion, the Fleas' music is most appropriate for kids ages 3 to 93. You can hear samples of the tracks here or full versions of some of the songs here. Depending on how many Dog on Fleas albums you own, The Bestest of the Best, may merely be, well, fairly good. But if you don't have any Dog on Fleas, please get this album and find out what some lucky others already know -- listening to this band is a very pleasurable and joyful experience. Recommended. Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review.
If the video for "Isthmus Be The Pirate Waltz" from Dean Jones was raucous and a big party, this video for "Baby In My Pocket" from the same Rock Paper Scissors album is a warm fuzzy of a blanket. (No sign of the Felice Brothers on this track.) It's lo-fi, but a nice little 75-second break. Dean Jones (w/ Earmight) "Baby In My Pocket" [YouTube]
Dean Jones is a busy man. Member of the great and earthy kids band Dog On Fleas, he's also got a solo career in his own right (witness the excellent lullaby disk Napper's Delight), produces others' disks (the upcoming album from Uncle Rock), and sometimes plays with the Felice Brothers. (He also sometimes plays "John Lemon" to his son's Paul McCartney -- see picture to left.) In spite of Jones' many obligations, he still had time to answer a few questions about his musical background, what it was like to record his new album Rock Paper Scissors with the Felice Brothers, and his favorite instruments. Zooglobble: What are your earliest musical memories? What are your memories of learning to play and sing music? Dean Jones: I come from a pretty musical family. There was always someone playing the piano, and I remember fighting for my chance to make some noise on it. My Mom used to sing to me when I was little, and sometimes now I hear some random song and a memory floods back to me of her singing it to me. My brother (11 years older) was my biggest musical influence. He played a lot of boogie woogie on the piano, as well as the Beatles, the Band, and that kind of thing. I used to hide in the closet when he got home from school and listen to him play. We listened to a lot of great music around the house too, from the Esso Trinidad Steel Band to Bach to Ella Fitzgerald. My brother took me to see Ella and she kissed me on the cheek! When did you decide to become a musician?
Those yelps of delight you might have heard from parts of the Kindie Twitterverse last week were from some folks getting their hands on the latest album from Dean Jones, member of the great kindie collective Dog On Fleas. It's called Rock Paper Scissors and it features The Felice Brothers (returning the favor to Jones, who sometimes plays horn with the band) on a number of tracks, along with a bunch of other guest artists such as Uncle Rock. Early spins of the album reveal a disk that is messy in all the right ways; it features Dean playing a bunch of instruments, including the car-horn o-phone -- how could it not be? It'll be for sale any day now, so stay tuned... Tracklisting below...