by Kathy O’Connell
I test-drove some new CDs on real kids recently. The kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders were challenged to help me decide what songs to play on my Kids Corner show on WXPN. To the question, “what do kids like in a song?” the answers were a collection of “F” words: “fast,” “funny” and “funk.”
Those words fit the hit of the listening session, Roger Day’s Dream Big! Day is joined by Buddy Holly’s Crickets and kid favorite Billy Jonas on a rockin’ and rollin’ collection of tunes. Outstanding guitar work on the title track makes us “sing loud, jump high, dream big.”
It’s a delightful kid anthem for all seasons and situations. “Rumble in the Jungle (the Elefunk Song)” got my kid crowd dancing immediately with a funky beat. The simple rhythms and complex strings of “Zachary Hated Bumblebees” mix nicely for the tale of the boy who “was scared he would get stung just because his epidermis was young.”
Billy Jonas helps respond to the call of “(As a Matter of Fact, Jack) I Like Yaks,” a well-produced love song to an unlikely animal. The “yak, yak, yak” of the kid chorus will help foment “yak revolution.” While the presence of kids’ voices lends a nice touch, Day’s voice and outstanding instrumentation lead the way in all songs.
The Crickets provide appropriate Holly-esque rhythm on “Roly Poly,” a song for when you don’t feel like doing “Bo Diddley squat.” Roger Day takes his place among the finest solo rockers making music for families. Find this outstanding production at www.RogerDay.com
Joyful Family Album
Peter Himmelman’s fourth CD for kids is My Green Kite, an outstanding collection of original tunes by someone who stands tall in the “grown-up” music field. Each song grows from Himmelman’s own life, both as a child and as a parent.
“My Father’s an Accountant” is a noble anthem to a noble profession from a child who “can see the hero in you.” “Feet,” which opens the CD with a march beat, introduces the word “schmendrick” (a Yiddish word meaning “fool”) to a kids’ audience. “My Green Kite” gives voice to Himmel-man’s “wish that I could fly too” with upbeat joy.
This is a CD that works on several levels, including that of an adult who appreciates how kids feel in “Maybe Is a Bad Word.”
“A Dozen Roses” is a raucous lullaby for all ages. This joyful album for the whole family is a near-perfect collection for long car rides. Find this Rounder Records release at www.peterhimmelman.com and www.rounder.com.
Peter Himmelman also appears on Barney Saltzberg’s fabulous Crazy Hair Day, along with musical icons Jackson Browne and Richard Thompson. This collection of friends mixes the songs and stories of Saltzberg into a mosaic of folkie fun.
My personal favorite, “Song for Pete,” has Richard Thompson’s familiar voice honoring a man “with a voice as warm as crushed corduroy” Pete Seeger. Dustin Hoffman finishes the CD with a pleasant reading of the title story (sung by Saltzberg and Vonda Shepard in the opening.) Crazy Hair Day is available from www.BarneySaltzberg.com.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.