Simon Jeffes’ mercurial compositions as Penguin Café Orchestra have long intrigued me. And yet, here I am listening to the debut (nearly self-titled) album for the first time, or first times, as it’s already on repeat-play. I first heard the Penguin Café Orchestra via its most famous piece, Telephone and Rubber Band, and that was via its most famous placement – the terrific movie, Talk Radio. So then it all lined up, because I knew the name and loved the cover images, the recurring bird-man motif, but hadn’t ever taken the plunge.
When I met Katy she had the When In Rome… live album; so that was my introduction-proper and my go to for many years. Then I checked a few more things out, had a great compilation that mostly did the trick too.
When Jeffes died the band ended. But his son Arthur recently took over, calling the project now just Penguin Café and retaining the strange-world spirit of this musical vision. Bits and pieces of jazz and classical and folk drift by and form their own sound in their own space. Penguin Café’s new albums are very good and apparently live they play the “hits” too. In tribute.
Well, I’m now hooked on this 1976 debut, a masterpiece. I knew some of the material from the compilations and live album but it felt very important to finally get (back) to this. As I really love the music of Penguin Café/Orchestra.
I’m going through the book, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and playing all of the albums I haven’t (previously) heard. It’s a pointless goal, but it’s my goal…