Sound Off!

Ralph’s World Gets Silly

by Kathy O’Connell

Ralph Covert (a.k.a. Ralph’s World) gets silly on the title track of Rhyming Circus. He sings about “fish who wish they’d never seen a dish,” and mentions “Lillian Gish and her sis.”

He throws in a bouncy dance tune, “Gotta Be Good,” and adds the tale of “Edward the Tap-Dancing Elephant” and its slightly “When I’m 64”-sounding story of a successful pachyderm who was told he was “too fat” to dance. Some nice country piano sweetens the surefire sing-along “Happy Not My Birthday,” celebrating every day when “I was not a whole year older.”

“Do the Math” is an imaginative mix of geometry and humanity, noting “different shapes and different colors, but friends are friends so do the math.” Any kids’ song that introduces kids to the word “non-Euclidian” deserves several listens, especially as it morphs into a speedy, spinning dance number.

Covert’s homage to Johnny Cash (“Folsom Daycare Blues”) sings of how an unhappy daycare bully “pushed a toddler over, just to watch him fall.” Lots of layers make Ralph’s World a constant winner. Every album has something for everyone. Ralph’s World is on Disney Records.

Magnificent and Literate
Canadian indie favorites Barenaked Ladies move their literate approach to rock into the realm of family music with the magnificent Snack Time. The CD opens strongly with cowboy-like “789,” a punch line that laments the days in our solar system when “we couldn’t make do without 9, but Pluto’s not a planet now, so 8’ll do fine.”

What is quirky in the group’s music for grownups seems quite natural and childlike on Snack Time. “Raisins” mixes “a nonexistent race to rebuild the Parthenon” with confusion between Greece and Grease 2. “My Big Sister” protests a hand-me-down because “you and I both know it’s a girl’s coat.” “Allergies” is a rocking litany of springtime sniffles. “Crazy ABC’s” celebrates silent letters like “C is for Czar.”

This proudly Canadian CD refers to national icons Gordie Howe and the CN Tower as well as universal family experiences.

New Orleans Funk
Funky Kidz reminds us of the musical treasure Hurricane Katrina couldn’t destroy, as several New Orleans music makers put a funky spin on kids’ classics.

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” is George Porter Jr.’s inspiring, trumpet-filled dance tune. Theresa Anderson quiets the mood with a thoughtful “Over the Rainbow.” The Radiators turn “Froggie Went A Courtin’” into an intense retelling of the story of “that lucky pair.”

This album growls, rocks, and most of all funks its way through “Yellow Submarine” and the “Hokey Pokey” as well. Save room for Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, who sound like the original crows from Dumbo on “When I See an Elephant Fly.”

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.