Blue Moo

Mar. 30th, 2009 11:10 am
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book coverBlue Moo by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford do it again with this collection of songs with quirky humor and clever lyrics performed by first-class musicians. Where their first hit, Philadelphia Chickens, was an imaginary revue with lots of Broadway-style music, Blue Moo is an imaginary juke box of (mostly) 50s and 60s style music. Sha Na Na sings “The Gorilla Song” in which a group of gorillas sing about their favorite ice cream flavor, banananananana. John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting delivers a syncopated poem, mostly accompanied only by drumbeats, about his love for big band swing in “Big Band Sound”. “I sing ironic retro rock with just three other guys / But I’m thinking of a band of significant size/ I want a big (beat beat) band sound.” “Speed Turtle”, reminiscent of “Greased Lightning” and sung in classic Beach Boys style by Brian Wilson himself, would appear from the illustrations to be sung by a band of snails amazed at a turtle’s speed. “The One Shoe Blues” is sung in inimitable style by B.B. King. Though the kids won’t recognize the big names, the music is nuanced enough to be great fun for kids and adults alike. There are a few less well-known performers, including the composer Michael Ford, and a trio including Sandra Boynton’s daughter. Their take on classic Motown, while no less likely to get stuck in my head than any of the other songs, suffered slightly from the singers obviously never having smoked, and, my husband says, a too-modern recording studio. Every so often throughout the whole album, there is a short marching-band style piece by The Uninvited Loud Intruding Band, hilarious in and of itself and an idea I really hope actual marching students latch on to. You can get this fabulous collection as a CD by itself, or for a few dollars more, a picture book with CD, with Sandra Boynton’s full-color concepts behind the songs facing the lyrics in large print. In the back, there are full lyrics with music and chords, for those who’d like to sing along or perform on their own. You, too, could fall under the spell of the legendary Blue Moo.

Snack Time

Jun. 6th, 2008 04:55 pm
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CD coverSnack Time by the Barenaked Ladies The BNL seem to be following the happy trend of making children’s albums. This is a delightful effort, featuring such songs as the opening Western-style number, “Seven Ate Nine,” with lyrics explaining all the difficulties that we’ll face without the number nine, such as vampires – “without their canines, how will they suck?” Mr. FP has also been heard around the house singing about allergies and the wolves howling at the moon, courtesy of this album. [livejournal.com profile] amnachaidh and I are particularly fond of the Silly Alphabet Song, where every letter is represented by a word which starts with the right letter but the wrong sound. “A is for aisle, B is for bdellium/ C is for czar and if you see him, would’ja mind tellin’ him?” [livejournal.com profile] amnachiadh points out, for BNL fans, that this album doesn’t have the great jamming sessions of his favorite BNL fans. However, it does have good, catchy tunes good for all ages and lyrics clever enough for older children and adults. I’m afraid it will be a long, long time before Mr. FP will want to listen to anything else in the car.
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CD coverRock Your Socks Off by Charity and the Jam Band It's time for dancing, mud, pickles and birthday cake in this rockin' album for the under-ten set. Jump to "Happy Fluffy", figure out your super power in "Super Hero", and break out your towel to dance the "Towel Tango." The songs are happy, upbeat, danceable. The lyrics are snappy, the tunes are catchy, and – wait – it sounds like real rock music, not like a classically trained musician or someone who just likes fiddling around with a guitar pretending to be able to sing rock. But don't take my word for it – she's got all the music to listen to on her website, http://www.jamjamjam.com .
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If it's in the car, Mr. FP won't listen to anything else. But he does like it equally well performed by Raffi and the Chenille Sisters.

Bananaphone by Raffi So often when I’m reviewing children’s music, I’ll talk about whether or not it’s solo voice with guitar. After listening to this album, I think what I’m aiming for is avoiding bad Raffi knock-offs. Raffi is basically the king of children’s music. In another artist’s voice, the silliness and seriousness would be insincere and make you gag. From Raffi, you find yourself singing along before you quite realize what’s happened. The title song, Bananaphone, includes all the banana puns you can think of, plus the groaner “It’s a Grandpa phone and a gramophone too.” There are is a nice song about the First Peoples, listing names of numerous Native American Tribes, and songs about organic gardening, silly rhymes and more. I would be the last person on earth to say that children need to listen only to children’s music, but if you want the Platonic ideal of kiddie songs, do put Raffi on your list.

Fairy Moon

Nov. 19th, 2007 11:48 am
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Fairy Moon: Songs of the Ring by Maria Sangiolo A lot of my children’s music reviews seem to include, “If you are tired of voice and solo guitar…” This gentle, unplugged recording charmed me. Sangiolo’s songs of shoe-making gnomes under the pines and fairy dances range in style from straightforward folk to Irish traditional, and are accompanied by piano, flute and harp, as well as the ubiquitous guitar. They capture a young child’s easy belief in fairies and joy in life in a way that reminded me of Waldorf fairy dolls. Sure enough, the liner notes, when I looked at them later, said that the album was inspired by her daughter’s Waldorf preschool. Mr. Froggie Pants, knowing nothing of Waldorf, still liked the “fayee” songs, and was dancing and singing along. You might, too.

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