Musical pastiche is a tricky thing to pull off, particularly when the target is as earnestly self-conscious as biopics like Ray and Walk the Line. Lean too heavily on the humour, and the satirical spell is broken; do it with too straight a face, and listeners may just take it as authentically bad. Christopher Guest managed it brilliantly with A Mighty Wind; but whether John C Reilly will fare as well with this spoof biopic is doubtful, despite the talents of bona fide songwriters like Dan Bern and Marshall Crenshaw. Late-Fifties parodies like "Life Without You (Is No Life At All)" and "Darling" have all the irritations of authentic pre-rock schlock, but without the melodies to compensate; "Dear Mr President" has its moments – notably "I stand for the midget, I stand for the negro, I stand for the Indian, all hopped-up on booze... I stand, yes I do, for the Christ-killing Jew" – but there's not enough sharpness elsewhere to carry the joke. Best moment: Van Dyke Parks' arrangement for the psychedelic "Black Sheep".
Download this: 'Black Sheep', 'Dear Mr President'