Now we come to one of those long-playing albums which defies easy categorization. Superficially it is jazz, yet hard-core jazz-heads may not like it because of its "quirkiness." It may be too "easy listening" for avant-improv heads (i.e., not "extreme'' nor "out" enough). Yet the open-minded among them-those that have albums of Raymond Scott and soundtrack music from pre-1965 cartoons & Marx Brothers movies-will find WF-HMLS a wonderful addition to their Life's Soundtrack. Compositionally, this Ratliff (who plays brass instruments & accordion) guy is all over the map, the same map that Carla Bley, Phillip Johnston, John Lurie, Steven Bernstein (what, you DON'T have his "Diaspora Soul"? you been sick or something?!?) and the Kamikaze Ground Crew use.
Bits of tango, polka, old big band jazz, Latin rhythms, Charles Ives, turn-of-the-century solon music, rock & roll, R&B, Stravinsky are all used in a daffy yet genially coherent tapestry. If Tim Burton were to do a faithful remake of Casablanca with Bugs Bunny in the Humphrey Bogart role, this album could/would/should be the soundtrack. If any of the above mentioned artists (throw in Sun Ra, Carol Lipnik & Spookarama, Tom Waits and NRBQ while you're at it) leaves you smiling, or if well-ordered freewheeling eclecticism is what gets you warm & runny, you owe it to yourself to hear Edward Ratliff's Rhapsodia.