Yesteryear is Now

Any Time (Blue Thumb)

Leon Redbone

By David Lilly

Need a mini vacation? Here's a prescription: kick off your shoes, grab a glass of cold lemonade, put this CD on, settle your body into a hammock and do a bit of time travel. But to what time? Any time during the first half of the 20th century. That's where Leon Redbone, minstrel and walking encyclopedia of music knowledge, has found his entire repertoire, much of it courtesy of Tin Pan Alley. With Any Time, his eleventh CD, Redbone's unusual brand of classy entertainment continues joyfully. Think of him as Tiny Tim's more likable cousin, with a baritone voice.

Piano keys are tickled, followed by a chuckling trombone as the title song sets the mellow pace for most of the dozen songs to follow. The clarinet, rarely heard in modern pop music, is a staple on Redbone's albums/CDs. It is featured - and played beautifully by Bob Gordon - on the second tune, "If You Knew." With "Ain't Gonna Give You None of My Jelly Roll," Leon incites a riot! Just kidding, but it's an fun and uptempo nudge to kick up your heels a bit. Go ahead and roll up your pant legs and ponder taking the rest of the day off after lunch, particularly with songs like the mellow-as-a-springtime-afternoon "All I Do Is Dream of You" and "Louisiana Fairytale." Some of Redbone's CDs include gorgeous instrumentals. Without describing every tune on this one, he sings throughout this CD, but nobody will complain because his voice is so unusual and engaging, not to mention animated in all the right places.

They say a fellow named Bob Dylan broke down the door to Tin Pan Alley in the mid 1960s, clearing a path for musical performers to write their own songs. Redbone has made a career of performing and recording Tin Pan Alley gems. Neither of these performers has ANY regard for modern musical trends. Dylan encountered Redbone on the Canadian club circuit during the mid 70s, after which he enthusiastically touted Redbone's wares. Such irony is a fitting testimony to Leon Redbone and his act - from one eccentric to another.