Sometimes it takes me a while to decide if I like a song or album. That is the case with three CDs and one DVD that I received in late 2005.
Of the CDs, I warmed up quickest to Reggae Playground, which offers snippets of Caribbean sounds from a variety of artists. The music is light and fun, making it easy for your child to follow along.
Kids will probably enjoy Alain Schneider’s “Le Vieil Éléphant” the most. While the majority of the song is in French, the beat is universal.
Toots and the Maytals rendition of “Take Me Home Country Roads” will probably strike a bigger cord with parents than kids. That’s because of the cute play on words:
Take me home,
to the place,
West Jamaica …
I smile every time I hear “West Jamaica.”
This album shines because both parent and child can enjoy the music together. The melodies are more complex than most music directed at children, which parents will find more satisfying than say the Wiggles. But the distinct reggae beat holds children’s attention better than heavy, complex Western music.
Seth seemed to like the music first time through, but I think he was at first unsure of the video. The colorful outfits worn by Berkner and her two band mates are bright like the Wiggles, but they’re constantly changing, which seemed to overwhelm his senses.
And to be honest, I was a bit distracted by the, um, bounciness of the ladies’ tops. Someone needs to talk to the wardrobe folk about that.
After the second viewing, though, Seth wanted to watch or listen to the DVD over and over again. In fact, he connects with Laurie’s music far deeper than Reggae Playground.
I suspect that’s because he’s still a toddler, and because Laurie’s music is, well, bouncy like her tops. For those who already own Laurie’s albums, take note that only one of the songs on the DVD is new: “Walk Along the River.”
There was one song I did not warm up to: “O Susannah,” which I guess is sung off-key by Brian Mueller on purpose. There is probably some inside joke that goes along with this song, but it sounds so butchered to me, I cringe every time it loops around.
The DVD comes with a short CD that includes “The Happiest Song I know,” which is also on Tom Chapin’s Some Assembly Required album. I reviewed that album in November. Maybe it’s Chapin’s more polished recording skills, but “Happiest Song” reveals just how silky Laurie’s voice can be. It’s one of my wife’s favorite songs off the Chapin album.
One World, One Kid
It’s hard to not like a 6-year-old kid who creates an album to cheer up a friend fighting cancer. The brainchild of Skyler Pia, 100 percent of the profit from One World One Kid benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
While I’m not in love with the boy’s high-pitched voiceovers before each song, Skyler’s eclectic taste in music is excellent. In fact, most of these culturally-rich songs from around the world are mostly over Seth’s head and will be best enjoyed by parents and older kids.
The album is short, but only costs about $6.