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Music to Flip to

The Music Box

By Walter E. Wilson

In their third record album the Dunster Dunces attempt, with spirit and some courage, to prove they are different. So they sing arrangements in styles from J.S. Bach to Ralph Burns to pseudo-Elvis Presley, venturing beyond the time-tested realms of usual college groups, like the Whiffen-poofs. But the danger in being daringly different is that to be successful, you must usually be not only unusual, but good.

The high point of the Dunces' efforts achieve their hopes: Winter is the Time to Snow your Girl, by member Erich Segal, is light, like a boyishly risque Deck the Halls: "Nothing could be gayer, than to one-horse-open-sleigh her." Hound (dog) has as much rock, and more down-to-earthiness than Mr. Presley's. Soloist Bill Gurton captures the true flavor of America's adolescent subculture, though the record does not convey his physical talents.

But in arranging what were lovely standard tunes, such as East of the Sun, and You Go to My Head, in a "modern" style, the Dunces sacrifice much of the originals' flavor for the more effects of radical chords, which may be interesting but which sound like an experimental tour de force. They get in too deep with Early Autumn, a jazz ballad taken from Burn's Summer Sequence. The difficult solo, however, is handled with skill and restraint by Gurton, who has surprising control of his voice and his music.

The Dunster Dunces apparently do not wish comparison with the Whiffenpoofs, and so wisely resort to unique material; this helps. But the record is, on the whole, a series of commendable, quite mediocre sallies onto unsure ground; they hopefully may improve with dear, precious time.

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