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Doctor Sparkles: Press

"The gent's promo-lit head shot depicts a Mad Hatter who turned to the light but refused to divest the looniness he'd grown so fond of over a suburban career of entertaining. Then a scattershot liner melange of photos of the good minstrel in various guises injects a syringe of kickapoo joy juice prepping the listener to the ukelele cabaret recording artist's decidedly off-kilter but very righteous ditties. Drenched in humor, a predominantly Left point of view (okay, he digs Ron Paul, a decided conservative, but, hey, given the choice between Moron McCain, CorporObama, and Ayn Paul, who would *you* choose?), and a not-so-distant cousin of jug band music, Scary Country is indeed cabaretic, hitting a very wide range. Something Pretty, f'rinstance, strays into balladic tones in semi-classical Romantic refrains before progressing into an almost Alice Cooper-ish vein a la the archly mellowesque side of Nightmare, Goes to Hell, or DaDa. This lithe turn of events, thank Gawd, finds itself unrestrained by big label pressures or agents fretting about whether or not MTV might find teen-dream idols within.

"Then there's Sparkles' wielding of not just the uke but also banjolele, balalaika, and the ever-popular home-made Dinty Moore Stew Canjolele (no, really, it's right there on the cover!!), and, as you listen, you'll uncover elements of The Firesign Theater, Nash the Slash, Swami Beyondanda, Ian Whitcomb, and sundry way-cool wackos. The Freakin' Fifth is a riff on the Bill of Rights, not Beethoven, and Homeland Security Chum extols Sparkles' views of TSA while Rescue Pig (Episode 1?) is a lighthearted ditty a la the ol' Underdog theme. In voices theatrical and melodic, you get a nonstop dizzying parade of great satires, commentaries, smartassery, zaniness…and, oh yeah, a buttload of wonderful music too, everything quite impressively rendered. Put this guy in a studio with a few bucks for a budget, and I guarantee you'd be astounded at the result.

"Move over, Weird Al."
"On a first listen to the beginning of this album, you immediately think, Egad, this is so cabaret! and then you remember: Doctor Sparkles IS cabaret.

"Thus this CD recalls the best (and the worst) of all the musical cabaret you’ve ever heard, from radio and movie archives to the very smuggest political party gatherings.

"Except you won’t find Doctor Sparkles in either. He does stay true to the genre (ingeniously, painfully), including self-conscious and contrived lyrics, a pompous tone, potty humor, and incorrect verbiage.

"But is this a satire of the genre? Western musical genres have become so ridiculous lately that I confess I’ve often mistaken serious work for over-the-top lampoon. I don’t think it matters here, because Doctor Sparkles never takes himself seriously...

"His choice of cabaret as the soapbox for his rucksack full of subversive ideals and arch observations is a sign that, yes, we are living in a culture in flux, a culture in decline, a culture ripe for overturning...

"Here, once again, the music is lovely, of course—and the recording quality is superb, the arrangements are delightful, and Sparkles’ voice is as smooth and rich as cream cheese. His masterful ukulele playing is adapted to multiple styles and shines in them all.

"Yes, this is cabaret, and as such it incorporates (absorbs?) many other genres, offering an interesting cross-section of American folk music."
"Doctor Sparkles is a ukelele driven swing merchant, with a penchant for mad hatter style outfits and a light and uplifting style of cabaret that's the perfect antidote to x-factor etc.

"It's worth noting here that I'm no fan of ukeleles, cabaret, or Mad Hatter costumes - so all the more power to Doctor Sparkles... then. It helps that he, like us, has got a thing going for monkeys - his hundred monkey mambo is a joyous step back into seductive fifties swing, and has a our favourite line of the month, which is destined to become a motto here at TMO: "Drunk monkey say 'Fermented banana'."

"There are also some intriguing instrumentals which catapult us from big-band swing through to the gypsy folk made so popular by the Gotan Project, or more recently Beirut. This is music that's contemporary but with the sound of history ingrained - that is to say it's living and breathing as opposed to mere pastiche...

"It's firmly tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time the message is clear throughout all the songs: forget what's acceptable, conventional, and 'normal' - trust your feet, and get up and dance.

"Now that's the best (and perhaps most political) advice that I've had lately. Switch off the tv, and switch on to Doctor Sparkles - you won't regret it."
(On Monkey Swing Monkey Doo): A ukulele wielding anachronist, this is the Tiny Tim for the new Millennium. The good Doctor may be the most profound monkey poop metaphor maker in glitter top hat to ever play a trombone.
Flamin Waymon Timbsdayle (King of Reviewland) - Roctober Magazine (Dec 25, 2008)
"Doctor Sparkles is the Il Matto of 21st century culture makers. We are poor enslaved players for a heartless brute and Doctor Sparkles our clown, a droll mouse who pluckily razzes the roaring lion...

"The tone is lively and bright but there’s a Rive Gauche dark side to this CD as well; one minute you’re at a kindergartener’s birthday party and the next you’re jive-stepping down a dark alley in 1930s Berlin. Yes, this is a swing album, but there’s klezmer, blues, cabaret, and gypsy jazz here keeping it company.

"The hokey song subjects and musical treatments are totally in keeping with the swing tradition, with deep observations thrown in for depth and grounding. This ukulele-strumming shaman-trickster-guru is here to provide you with a cartoon roadmap of creative mindfulness...

"Sparkles uses swing as a metaphor for creation, human origins, the Dance of Life. (“The Golden Age of Swing” is the funniest creation song you ever heard.)

"Throughout this album the music shifts emotionally to frame the words. Every musician here is a virtuoso, and they sound like they’re having a very good time...

"Monkey Swing Monkey Doo manifests eight of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it confronts, rebukes, and mocks existing injustices; 3) it makes me want to be a better artist; 4) it gives me tools which help me be a better artist; 5) it displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering; 6) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; 7) it is about attainment of the true self; and 8) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour."
"Well on the first listen I realized I loved it!!! Doctor Sparkles really delivers on fun and swing along with a great knack for songwriting and crafting playful lyrics. He brings together the best aspects of modern swing like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies along with original swing masters such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Prima, etc."
"What do you get when you cross a ukulele and monkey doo? How about one of the best swing albums of the year? San Francisco's Doctor Sparkles, that over the top MD of uke swing, comes out swinging with his sophomore effort, Monkey Swing Monkey Doo. Cabaret Jazz is a serious art form, and must be undertaken with a light heart and a sense of humor. Doctor Sparkles appears to have found the right formula.

"Come on, you mean he really plays a ukulele? Quite well, thank you. Doctor Sparkles is one mean uke player, and has a great cabaret/stage voice. There's an obvious sense of humor here, not to mention some first class jazz. Monkey Swing Monkey Doo is a real treat. Songs such as The Anahata display the charisma of Doctor Sparkles, not to mention the first class band he has behind him. The Golden Age Of Swing is a reminder of the roots of much of America's popular music for the last half-century. You'll need to check out the island swing of Gotta Dance, the freewheeling Monkey Love and the Gershwin-esque Just One Thing.

"Other highlights include the politically pointed Another One Percent, Always Be There and the Elvis Presley inspired Flinging Poo At The Zoo. Doctor Sparkles combines classic swing and early rock sensibilities in the same way Louis Prima and many other 1950's/1960's Vegas performers did. This is an exciting album that will play well to crowds of all ages. So step up and Fling some Poo."
Wildy - Wildy's World (Sep 14, 2008)
"You really can’t classify Doctor Sparkles’ music as it’s in a class all its own. 'Sail Away' is a comical, hokey, island music inspired CD. Interestingly enough, Doctor Sparkles has a great voice and plays the ukulele quite well. 'Island Showers' is Doctor Sparkles’ solo performance with the ukulele and it is breathtakingly beautiful. 'The One That I Love' is a simple but wonderful love song that showcases Doctor Sparkles’ voice nicely. I could hear some folk influences in this tune."
"Dr. Sparkles first CD 'Sail Away' is a pseudo-psychedelic, island breezy, folky, Latin influenced ferris wheel ride for the child within. A musically sound, witty masterpiece."
"Baiko's alter ego Dr. Sparkles is over the top to say the least, but the music on his debut album is quite eclectic and definitely different than anything else I've ever heard. It's like a trip down to the Caribbean with little messages here and there. The opening of his debut album and title track is like taking Dracula and having him sing a song that would be perfect for the next SpongeBob SquarePants movie. It's soft, soothing and dementedly happy. The rest of the album is just as interesting.

The back of the album has a little description of what Doctor Sparkles is all about. Each song is supposed to be a fantasy. Some have 'pearls of wisdom' while 'others are scattered ideas whose only point is to point out how very silly it is to think it important to make points.' Baiko does both surprisingly effectively."
(On Sail Away): "The uke-kook is the wholesome Ian Whitcombe, strumming his old time ukulele music as if the last ninety years or so never happened. Except he's dressed like a Dr. Seuss character, so now we're back to forty years. And his reggae-themed/Chipmunks-backed up Christmas song brings him witin thirty years. I take it back - this super-fun strummer is practically from the future!"
"Have you ever asked yourself 'Who is gonna step up and become the heir to Tiny Tim?'

"No? Do you even know who the hell I’m talking about? (No, this ain’t Charles Dickens.) If you do know, do wonder why anyone would want to be the heir to Tiny Tim?

"I’m asking myself this after hearing Doctor Sparkles ukulele-ragin’ CD Sail Away. This guy is either a genius or … not a genius. Who can tell these days?

"Doctor Sparkles has a very vivid musical imagination. I think he’s even pretty damn talented. His voice can be almost breathtakingly beautiful. But he wails on a freaking ukulele! I can laugh - I can say this isn’t too god-awful for a ukulele - but I can only stand the torture of those twanky strings for so long.

"OK. If you dig ukulele, buy this. You’ll never look back. If you like driving your friends insane with your eclectic taste in music, buy this. If you have kids who you want to dissolve into laughter at the sound of music, buy this. If you hate ukulele, run."
- Junkie Jones (Aug 11, 2006)