Misfit Toys: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Rearrangements of pop hits from the 1970s usually come with a heavy dose of irony, but it’s hard to tell if vibraphonist Dan Moore had that in mind when assembling this album and the Misfit Toys. The ad-hoc group, which includes Matt Wilson (drums), Paul Elwood (banjo, vocals) and the late Robert Paredes (clarinet), lends some respectability to Styx’s bombastic “Grand Illusion” and the Carpenters’ sappy “Bless the Beasts and the Children” by emphasizing the melodic strengths of both tunes. But the banjo, over-enunciated vocals and double-time tempos too often come off like attempts at cheap laughs. Then there’s the mix of electronic backdrops and clean clarinet lines in “Hello It’s Me” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which cross over into easy-listening territory.