By: Jeffrey P. Dupuis
When I was a child, I don't remember there being any such thing as music marketed directly to children. I can remember borrowing my older brother's friends' albums and playing them on my portable toy record player and recording them on my toy tape recorder to have a copy. Don't laugh, this was years before the advent of digital downloads or the Internet and seemed pretty swift for a seven or eight year old.
I also remember with great chagrin long car rides that included my seven younger siblings. Although I do not have any children of my own, I am well acquainted with the likes of Barney the Purple Dinosaur, Rafi, The Wiggles, The Imagination Movers and the Baby Mozart series. If any of these names ring a bell, then you're in luck. Not since Garcia and Grisman's Not for Kids Only (1993) has there been a kids collection likes this. Funky Kidz (released March 4 by ASAP Productions) is a project that manages to capture a spirit that most children's music is sorely lacking – genuine funk.
The collection opens with a swinging version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" by Bonerama. Big Sam's Funky Nation delivers a spirited version of the "Hokey Pokey" with the energy of a gaggle of six-year-olds hopped up on Pixy Stix; the perfect soundtrack for wearing toddlers out. Dumpstaphunk's "Zip a Dee Doo Dah" is sublime, and this deep funk take on this tune is worthy of being incorporated into the band's regular sets. The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" surfaces from the Mississippi River courtesy of Papa Grows Funk who'll make you want to join the crew of this seasoned vessel. Paul Sanchez turns the Wizard of Oz's "If I Only Had a Brain" into a sweet lullaby that compliments the other naptime tunes including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Theresa Andersson, "Garden Song" by Amanda Shaw and a swinging sing-a-long "This Little Light of Mine" by Ingrid Lucia.
George Porter Jr takes the album to Sunday school with his moving rendition of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" that will make the kids wonder why their church isn't this spirited. The eponymous hero of "Froggy Went a Courtin" is transformed by The Radiators' into a swaggering gunslinger for whom courting, by the sound of the music, is very serious business. Walter 'Wolfman' Washington charges through a funky, romping "This Land is Your Land" that will make the kids boogie. Silliness returns to round out the album with Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes ' "When I See an Elephant Fly" that will make adults giggle, too.
Give yourself a break and your kids - and kids at heart - a better appreciation for music. The collection is definitely a great stepping stone towards good music we can all enjoy.
JamBase | The Pocket
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