Rolling Stone - 8/3/72, pp.37-38
"...a feat of sublime inspiration..."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1004 stars out of 5
-- "The combination of tropical warmth, classic American songbook and Van Dyke Parks' trademark fussiness is unlikely -- but it works."
Uncut (magazine) - p.97
"[I]t's largely playful and sometimes funny....Little Feat provide the salty atmospherics on 'FDR In Trinidad', and the gangster theme is continued on the lazy, tropical 'John Jones'."
Personnel includes: Van Dyke Parks, Murray Adler, John Audino, Israel Baker, Roger Bobo, Norm Botnick, Gary Coleman, Bonnie Douglas, Karen Ervin, Roy Estrada, George Fields, Anne Goodman, Jim Gordon, Richie Hayward, Milt Holland, Kirby Johnson, Myra Kestenbaum, Gayle Levant, Lew McCreary, Al McKibbon, Malcolm McNab, Gordon Marron, Jay Migliori, Dan Neufeld, Jeffrey Reynolds, Frederick Scykora, Paul Shure, Dennis Smith, Tony Terran, The Trinidad Steelband.
Engineers include: Robert Appere, Bruce Botnick, Doug Botnick.
Includes original liner notes by Van Dyke Parks.
Personnel: Van Dyke Parks (vocals, piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Lowell George, Laurindo Almeida (guitar); Bonnie Douglas (violin); Jesse Ehrlich (cello); John Audino, Lew McCreary (horns); Jim Gordon (drums); Milt Holland, Gary Coleman (percussion); Tom Scott (wind).
Directors: Kirby Johnson; Kendrick Headley; Fred Myrow; Bob Thompson ; Lowell George; Gordon Marron Strings; Mike Allsup.
Photographer: Ed Thrasher.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Kirby Johnson; Chuck Berghofer; Norman Botnick; Dan Neufeld; Jerry Kessler; Myra Kestenbaum; Charles Berghoffer; Dennis Smith ; Karen Ervin; George Fields; Malcolm McNabb; Jeff Reynolds; Garvin Adams; Murray Adler; Kendrick Headley; Anne Goodman; Frederick Scykora; Gayle LaVant; Jay Migliori; Jim Gordon ; John Bergamo; Al McKibbon; Lowell George; Milt Holland; Richie Hayward; Roy Estrada; The Esso Trinidad Steel Band; Tom Scott; Trinidad Steel Band; Laurindo Almeida; Israel Baker; Roger Bobo; Gary Coleman; Bonnie Douglas; Gayle Levant; Paul Shure; John Audino; Gordon Marron Strings; Jesse Ehrlich; Tony Terran; Lew McCreary; Buell Neidlinger.
Van Dyke Parks' DISCOVER AMERICA came four years after his audacious debut. Where SONG CYCLE created its own orchestral tapestry of poetic and hallucinogenic Americana, its successor adopted Caribbean styles. Far from leaving the USA behind, however, this record is a series of glimpses into the social, cultural and political headlines from the first half of the twentieth century in America. Herein are celebrations of the Mills Brother, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Palance, and Bing Crosby.
Parks' interest in Trinidadian steel-drum bands was given full flower (he also produced an album by the Esso Trinidad Steel Band around this same time), and their color serves as a joyful counterpoint to string sections and small combos of guitars, bass, drums, piano and horns. It says a good deal about Parks' skills as an arranger, producer and singer that Lowell George's "Sailin' Shoes" sounds right at home on an album with Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."