An anti-prophet who asks only that he be given as big a funeral as Jesus and Moses, an overweight middle-aged man who carries around a picture of his shirtless teen-aged self in order to lure women, a woman who spends most of the day with a cell-phone pressed to her ear (even when she\'s on the toilet), the ghosts of Edith Wharton and Alexander Hamilton, a trucker driven to prostitutes by southern evangelical radio preachers, the first human on earth (the hermaphrodite, Eve). These are some of the characters on Randy Kaplan\'s double c.d., Perfect Gentleman, released in 2004 by Yellow Thing Records & Books. Randy amassed a collection of cheap yard-sale organs and used their built-in drum samples to create the rhythm tracks for the songs on Perfect Gentleman. He utilized these rock, jazz, waltz, swing, bossa nova, dixie, cha-cha, and rhumba beats to fashion songs ranging from simply-structured folk and country ballads to torch songs, lampoons, spirituals, and satires to songs with chromatic melodies, dissonant harmonies, and striking modulations. Kaplan\'s disparate influences are evident in the broad range of styles of these 28 songs: from John Prine (Rusty & New) to Antonio Carlos Jobim (Little Bee) to Paul Simon (Stay New) to Stephen Sondheim (Twice) to poet John Ashbery (None of Us Has Ever Died) to filmmaker Eric Rohmer (Perfect Gentleman). __ Reviews of PERFECT GENTLEMAN: \'Classy and intelligent acoustic observations from Brooklyn-based writer. \'Perfect Gentleman\' is a 28 song double album that, rarely for such a large beast, doesn\'t outstay it's welcome. Built around Kaplan\'s high and light vocals and acoustic guitar, it incorporates a variety of samples, primarily organs and slightly strange sounding drums, to create the rhythm tracks, all of which he plays himself. But despite this, it is essentially a simple, not to say nostalgic, album that allows space for the lyrics to breathe. And those lyrics don\'t underestimate their listener\'s intelligence, being literate and occasionally not a little highbrow (and that\'s not a criticism), unafraid of multi-syllable words or obscure subject matter. Kaplan is a craftsman in the tradition of Paul Simon, to whose \'Still Crazy After All These Years\' \'Perfect Gentleman\' is first cousin. There are other similarities to Simon as well, as Kaplan is very much a sharp observer and chronicler, rather than a heart on the sleeve writer. But he\'s not so detached as to forget his common humanity, and his songs are by turns tender, compassionate and understanding. He also has a sense of humour that flits through the songs, notably on \'Buff\'s\' lament for a body gone to seed and \'Never be Alone\'\'s protagonist who has a mobile permanently welded to her ear. Two of the best things here is \'Girl in a Big White Sweater\' (\'drove away in a little red car\'), which paints an entire picture in those twelve words and builds to a frenetic unrequited climax and \'Eve\', about the original. \'Perfect Gentleman\' is well worth seeking out, as on this evidence are Kaplan\'s previous four offerings.\' -Jeremy Searle / AMERICANA-UK.com \'RANDY KAPLAN... stands alone, within equidistant small-rock-hurling reach of PAUL SIMON (and) WOODIE GUTHRIE... His musical approach is homemade cheerful multi-instrumental confidence with a harmonica. It\'s delightful small scale foolishness with plunder chests full of styles and rhythms sitting under clever drolleries and nifty tunes that include lines like \'she makes me listen to Tom Jones while she talks Japanese on the telephone\' or \'I\'m going to die right here. Get me a notary. I want a big big funeral!\' There are a lot of instruments making very pretty, quirky, funny and sometimes dead right noises throughout. It\'s just dead good entertaining perkiness. And I almost guarantee that Mr. Kaplan sells van loads of these albums at gigs in New York (did I mention he was born on Long Island?). His personal story telling, his cheerful nuttiness, his ability to slip into and out of the mournful or the weird... these are the qualities that the man will convey most in person. When you get the full album for yourself, see if you can find the \'Eye of a Tiger\' quote. You can then go look for his four earlier albums. Good luck!\' -Sam Saunders / WHISPERINANDHOLLERIN.com \'Quality recordings from lo-fi underground recording popster Randy Kaplan. Kaplan\'s tunes are nice and laidback...often recalling the music of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. This is a whopping collection of songs...two discs containing a total of 28 tracks. That\'s a lot...if you like what Kaplan is doing, these discs will provide a great deal of spinning power. Unlike most underground songwriters, Randy doesn\'t write weird or crazy music. Instead, he writes tunes that could easily be accepted by the general public. (Rating: 4+++)\' -Baby Sue / BABYSUE.com \'Not many people wound sing about Eve (as in the Bible\'s Eve) being the first human hermaphrodite but Randy Kaplan explores that notion on his enigmatic \'Perfect Gentleman\'. He performs his tongue-in-cheek vocals over an assortment of vintage organs and boisterous guitar with a light rhythm section bleeding on the edges. His voice is what\'s at the center of the mix with an earnest take on life and all it's hypocrisies. The album doesn\'t lack in depth either including length as it reigns in strong of the double disc variety. He\'s certainly unique and his unique song arrangements will keep fans coming back for more salivating the whole way.\' -J-Sin / smother.net \'Kaplan has a pleasant, easy-going hand in his songwriting, and the songs here are instantly likable... This demonstrate(s) Kaplan\'s ample writing skills.\' -CENT.com \'Randy\'s uniqueness and originality come from his uncanny ability to see his world and ours from almost any angle. These perspectives come together in a poetry of contradictions and complexities that are exposed through his hypnotic melodies and profoundly intimate lyrics. His literary yet accessible songs capture ambivalence and investigate the inner lives of human beings in the tradition of Leonard Cohen or Stephen Sondheim.\' -KRISELEN.com \'...Randy has a collection of cheap organs and has pulled from them many different rhythm tracks to which he writes his music too. That\'s about the only unorganic thing about Perfect Gentlemen. Kaplan manages to get personal on many different levels throughout the double album. He jumps off with one of the best tracks on the album, \'Rusty & New\'. It\'s interesting to see the way he can overlap the beats almost seamlessly while creating some very impressive songs on top of.\' -Dennis Scanland / MUSICEMISSIONS.com \'Randy Kaplan sounds like a fun guy to have at parties, entertaining guests with his humorous tales of life, love, and interesting characters. He takes a simple approach to psychological, esthetic, social, historical and political problems by turning them into stories. Part cabaret, part folk, part lo-fi inventiveness, Kaplan strums his guitar and provides beat samples from cheap toy organs to accent his narratives about lost girlfriends, bad behavior, the state of the world, useless desires, and such. Kaplan ventures into the surreal, as he discusses Edith Wharton\'s love for Alexander Hamilton or a woman who won\'t get off her cell phone, even when she\'s on the toilet. He pines for Bernadette Peters although he knows he has problems maintaining a relationship with women older than himself, wonders if the Biblical Eve was a hermaphrodite and pines for the Garden of Eden. If Kaplan\'s topics seem scattered, they are all united through the narrator\'s consciousness. He\'s having a good time letting his imagination run wild and invites you to join him.\' -Steve Horowitz / POPMATTERS.com \'Kaplan\'s music is very unique: some songs have a country beat while others project a more alternative feel... He draws very vivid images... and sings about things that everyone can relate to, whether it\'s our parents, true love or our time in high school.\' -Jacque Booth / SACRED HEART SPECTRUM \'It\'s easy to fall hopelessly in love with Randy Kaplan\'s music... (His) formula works best on tracks like opener \'Rusty & New\', a playful folk song that makes love seem incorruptible. Similarly, \'One Too Many Times\' radiates an innocence that feels natural and unrehearsed. Still more of Kaplan\'s playfulness emerges in \'Bernadette Peters\', a head-bopping, tongue-in-cheek story about a biker chick who weighs Steve Martin by jiggling his ass.\' -Ryan Humm / SPLENDID MAGAZINE \'Singer/songwriter fans of the world unite! We are dealing with a premium example of a singer/songwriter here. Melody, lyrics, arrangement, production-everything comes from Randy personally. Actually, only one thing does not: the heart of the 28 (!!) songs are rock, jazz, waltz, swing, bossa nova, dixie, cha-cha and rhumba drum samples extracted from 1970's analogue keyboards. That sounds at first like overboard avant-garde. But Kaplan's true artistry lies in using entirely simple beats... and laying his wonderful folk compositions so precisely on top of them. It's as if Randy, in ancient purist tradition, has a big drum on his back and is stomping the beat with his foot. \'And then there are these lyrics! Through simple yet effective orchestration, they gloriously attain lots of room to breathe. And they prosper into genuine stories, stories which require intelligent and open-minded listening. Naturally, without seeming dumb and old-fashioned in the process. \'The man, who comes from Brooklyn, and consequently is already sort of a cult figure in the folk Mecca New York, is often compared with Paul Simon. In fact, on \'Perfect Gentleman\' he shows himself to be a poignant observer and chronicler of his time. A song about a woman who constantly walks around with her cell phone in her ear may seem, from the distance, cheap. However, to call this song \'Never Be Alone\' shows that Kaplan has recognized a deeper psychological significance in the standard communication practices of our time. Observations like these are Kaplan's greatest strength: to look at human behavior, complete with it's strengths and weaknesses, from all kinds of perspectives. Kaplan avoids the usual underground singer/songwriter trap of relying on completely obscure and expressionistic language and nonsensical musical outbreaks. His stories are relatively easy to follow and although the presence of his howling dog in \'Off Limits\' comes as a surprise, it serves and doesn't distract from Kaplan\'s \'homemade\' project. \'Recurrent in his songs is his flashing sense of humor, a humor which is skillfully married to a bitter sense of reality. There's the anti-Prophet who wishes nothing more eagerly than to receive a funeral as big as that of Jesus or Moses. There's the story of the overweight middle-aged man who carries around a picture of himself insolently posing for the camera, many years younger and in top shape. With this picture of his earlier self he now tries to seduce women. Of course it is comical. But it is also far more: it is tragic and at the same time, comes from a wisdom, a knowledge of the falsity at the heart of many human endeavors. I do not know who was responsible for landing this Randy Kaplan c.d. on my desk. But may God praise and bless him for it!\' -D. Wonschewski / KONTRASTRADIO.
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