January 22, 2009

Get Gustafer Yellowgold Fever!

By Warren Truitt


Just heard/watched the new CD/DVD Gustafer Yellowgold's Mellow Fever ... wonderful! Morgan Taylor's third installment in Gustafer's life story is as tranquil, silly, moving, and catchy as ever, and explores even more the mysterious past of our hero, and introduces a couple of new characters.

Mellow Fever comes out in March, so until then you can catch up by checking out past reviews of Gustafer Yellowgold's Wide Wild World and Gustafer Yellowgold's Have You Never Been Yellow?


January 29, 2008

‘Have You Never Been Yellow?’ Review

By Warren Truitt


How do you top a masterpiece? Well, you produce another masterpiece that explores even more deeply the title character's background and personality, via dreamy and intelligent pop music. We found out about the Wide Wild World of Gustafer Yellowgold earlier last year, and now we're asked Have You Never Been Yellow? in Morgan Taylor's second installment of our hero's adventures.

From the lighter-hoisting anthem "Pinecone Lovely" to the deeply introspective "The Bluebird Tree" to the hilarious "The Mustard Slugs", Morgan lays upon us more soooperpop tunes full of thoughtful, witty, and psychedelically descriptive lyrics. Trust, death, the desire for one's unique comfort zone in the universe, family, and mathematics are dealt with on Yellow, always through the eyes and imagination of a child.

In this second CD/DVD of all things Yellowgold, we find that Gustafer loves pine cones ... as food, as clothing, as messages sent through the mail. And that birds would dearly love to trade their singing skills for mankind's secret to longevity, and their ability to trust one another. The shuffling "Beard for All Seasons" promotes the virtues of quarterly beard ownership, while Gustafer battles bugs for his scrumptious maize in "Aye, Aphid". The spacious, dusty "The Cactus Calls" disarms a sheriff with a big kiss on the mouth, and "The Mustard Slugs" is the funniest song about digit placement you will ever hear, hands down.

On Wide Wild World, we learned about Gustafer's love of jumping on cakes, and this time around we find that he's mad about "Punching Cheese", another hobby on the verge of an obsessive compulsive fetish. And when you only "Dream in Green", it changes your perception of your surroundings: The moon is a Granny Smith apple, stars are limes. By the way, this song was originally the title tune on Taylor's 2003 album for grownups, which also included the original version of Wide Wild World's "I'm From the Sun".

Taylor is fast becoming a highly admired superstar in the children's music world, not only because of his animation and musical talents, but also because he completely respects his young audiences, to the point where the tunes and words you hear on his albums are more imaginative and well-constructed than most "adult" songs. Check out this line from "Punching Cheese": "Holey Swiss, How art thou hangin'?, With gloves I'm clangin', A lovely wedge of thee". And the choruses of, well, pretty much every song on the CD are well worth the price of admission. This album will have you singing along with your little one, I promise (and to yourself on the way to work!).

And those are only the CD highlights! The DVD is a treasure on its own, full of iconographic animations of every song on the CD. Taylor experimented with layering the artwork on this project, giving the pictures a more three dimensional look. A very cool bonus feature is Taylor's audio comments, detailing his storyline and musical ideas, and describing the visuals that accompany each song.

This is a must-have, people. Buy three copies of Yellow: One for your own family, one for a friend, and one for your local public library. Soon, everyone in the world will be singing, "Piiiine Cone Looooovely, To Thee I Siiiiiiiing!"


April 30, 2007

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World Review

By Warren Truitt


So much has already been said by so many reviewers about this wonderful, wonderful project, there's really nothing left to say about the re-release. Wait, lemme say this: if there is ANY possibility of seeing Morgan Taylor's live multimedia presentation of the Gustafer Yellowgold story, you MUST go. I've seen grown men crying with joy at the end of "New Blue Star" when all the children in the audience are blissfully singing "Neeeeeeeww Bluuuuuuue Staaaaar!!!" Absolutely heavenly.

And with the new release you get two additional songs: "A Cooler World", which could be Taylor thinking ahead to the possibility of an animated series, because this little ditty succinctly encapsulates everything Gustaferish within a perfect pop tune; and "Rocket Shoes", a typically wistful Taylor tune that fits right in with the feel of the older songs. Both have been available for a while on the Gustafer website, but it's nice to have them incorporated into the total storyline and CD/DVD package.

Here's what I had to say about the original DVD-only release:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

As you sit reading this review, I feel sorry for you, I truly do. For you see, friends, the minutes you waste eyeballing these pitifully mundane comments are minutes you could be digging this mindblowingly awesome DVD. This stuff is so far ahead of typical kids' entertainment, everyone else might as well give up. OK, allow me to back up and let you in on what all this proselytizing is about.

Illustrator/songwriter Morgan Taylor, originally from Dayton, Ohio, currently a Lower East Side resident, is the creator of Gustafer Yellowgold, a character from the Sun who befriends otherwise friendless beings like a flightless pterodactyl, a crying green bee, a dragon who makes his home in a fireplace, and an eel. Gustafer Yellowgold's Wide Wild World is the soundtrack of their intertwining lives, filled with stories of friendship, loneliness, loss, death, and love. But these subjects are dealt with in such a subdued manner that you don't so much read the lyrics or hear the music, you feel them, you understand the emotions channeled through the songs, you empathize with the characters.

The eight songs on the DVD are iconographically illustrated with Morgan's simple and colorful drawings, enclosed within a square wooden frame, and lyrics to each stanza appear on the frame as each song flows by. The DVD also includes wordless versions of all the songs so you and your little ones can sing along with "I'm From the Sun", "Your Eel", "New Blue Star", and the rest of the joyous tunes and aching melodies.

After having opened for bands such as the Polyphonic Spree and Wilco, Morgan is currently performing the Gustafer Yellowgold music locally, playing live as the images from the DVD are projected onto a screen. If you live near NYC, go see the show. If you live anywhere else in the world, come see the show. If you are of this universe, buy the DVD and share it with everyone you know.