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Randy Leago and Jim Hoke


A classic of pop reinvention. The Groovy bar has been raised.

Two of Nashville's high profile multi-instrumentalists, Jim Hoke and Randy Leago, have gone and done it this time. In the spirit of Esquivel! the legendary Mexican beatnik mensch, Jim and Randy have taken some beloved tunes from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and rearranged them in ingenious ways. As they say: "...instrumentalized as you've never imagined." And that’s the truth.

They play a comical number of instruments well between the two of them (they list 32 in the credits) and still they brought in some friends to play upright bass (Brad Jones, who has produced many CDs covered in these pages) and things like bassoon and oboe, French horn, and cello (Jim's son, Austin). Not to mention they get a class act like Society’s Child, Janis Ian, to sing background vocals on three numbers.

But what separates this release from most any campy instrumentals of these kind of classic covers is the level of musicianship that went into the arrangements, because they're mindblowing. Esquivel himself was frequently just weird, and there's none of that here, not a note. The songs are treated with a great deal of humor, but with a pop respect, you know? They get into the heart of the tunes, and find spirits of mariachi, klezmer, tango, Indian and Persian music, you name it, and bring it all off in the most pleasing and ear opening ways.

What's done with the pedal steel on the Flamingos' precious song, "I Only Have Eyes For You," it makes you think they should have a pedal steel on everything (which is close to what I think, anyway). Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods, "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics, some of the greatest pop songs ever, done in uncanny ways. This stuff is going to end up in films all over the place. We love this record.
• Frank Goodman

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