By Bob Pyle
Apple Tree Records ATR-001
Of course, the party guests would all be like-minded people who would appreciate his clever jabs at factory farming, Frank Perdue, and McDonald's. The guests would be people who do eat apples and oranges as part of a diet of grains, fruits and vegetables instead of all that bad animal stuff Pyle describes on the title track, Apples and Oranges, a five-minute journey on a horse-drawn apple cart.
If Pyle could bring a few of his musician friends, our first choice would be concert violinist Janice Martin whose talents are revealed in 11 of the 12 selections. Martin performs on a Stradivarius violin that dates back to 1708. Her solos and accompaniment in this old-time string band setting are quite a contrast from her classical concert performances.
While Pyle may describe this as a string band, we would categorize it as country folk music. What distinguishes the recording is his clever, humorous, and sensitive lyrics that are evident in his opening song, "A World Made Out of Spam." In this case he is referring not to computer junk mail, but the nefarious canned meat that has found its way all around the world. His lyric says, "The Spam he ran for President and won in every state. The platform he ran on was some Spam on every plate." He concludes the chorus with the line, "Only you can save us from a world made out of spam."
The humorous high spot of the CD is the song "When They Close the Golden Arches" that satirizes McDonald's, even down to its intercom system. Pyle sings, "There'll be shouts, parades, and marches, no more greasy fat and starches, when they close the golden arches with a bang."
Pyle pokes fun at one of the kingpins of the chicken industry in his song Frank Perdue. As much as factory chicken farms talk about how humanely they treat their Perdue poultry, Pyle sings sarcastic lines like, "Your chickens they all love you cause they have the finest cages." In another dig, he chants, "You've been presented with great awards for charitable conduct, and you're the only businessman who looks like his product."
After reading John Robbins' Diet for a New America, Pyle was inspired to create "Factory Style" a song that details the abuses of this pervasive factory farm animal system. "So I don't support a factory farm, and every once in a while I think about the cries that go unheard on a farm that's factory style. "
Other highlights of the CD are "Mango Fandango," a calypso tribute to that tropical fruit; "I've Been Restored," a Salvation Army type rendering complete with tuba and trombone; and a humorous tribute to "Petunia the Pig" that even delivers a few lines in French.
The song "Gentle Creatures" concludes the recording with his plea to animals to come to him so he can offer consolation and his deepest admiration for their humility and trust. In describing the song. Pyle writes, "The last song, to me, contains the essence of this album. There is a Jewish proverb which says: Kindness is the beginning and the ending of the law."
Pyle is supported by a number of talented musicians and backup singers including his co-producer Billy Kemp on guitar, bass, piano, harmonica, and banjo. Featured on the vocals are bluegrass legend DeDe Wyland, Larry Brown, and guests. Additional musicians appear on some of the tracks.
Vegetarians are constantly the victims of jokes by our carnivore friends and associates. It's refreshing to discover Bob Pyle cleverly skewering the carnivores with some laugh-out-loud lyrics. The recording spotlights memorable melodies performed by highly capable musicians. But Pyle's deft handling of the sprightly lyrics is the stand-out feature of the CD. The recording brings the message in such an entertaining manner, both vegetarians and non-vegetarians will be entertained.
Too bad Bob Pyle is 3000 miles away. What a great party we could have! All the vegans in Los Angeles could assemble for a fantastic mammoth potluck with Bob Pyle crooning his clever lyrics to the delight of the crowd.
For information on Apples and Oranges, contact Apple Tree Records at P.O. Box 99, Ellicott City, MS 21041 or click on http://www.bobpyle.com