"More Irish Tales For Children"
An Amazon.com customer from Florida loves Sharon Kennedy's first "Irish Folk Tales for Children" CD: "We are transported to the Irish countryside with its bogs, hills, and windy roads--the perfect locale for wizards, leprechauns, and talking animals! My two preschoolers beg to hear these tales over and over, and I gladly comply as I've not tired of them yet either." With this second CD of storytelling, the images of Ireland and its tales are even more compelling.
"Wake Up Jeff"
Bounding out from Australia, the Wiggles are an awesome bunch. The "Wake Up Jeff" video is a huge hit, and now the CD is, too. It's got many of the quartet's best performances--from "Having Fun at the Beach" to the downright silly "Romp Bomp a Stomp." The big red car, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and the perennially sleepy Jeff are all here--ready for the ears.
CLASSIC DISNEY SOUNDTRACKS
"Mary Poppins: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack (1964 Film) [SOUNDTRACK]"
Richard M. Sherman
From the uptempo "Step in Time" to the speller's headache "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," the soundtrack to "Mary Poppins" ranks as one of Disney's best. The film took home five Academy Awards (out of 13 nomintations), and the soundtrack boasts another pair of classic hits in "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee."
Rare demo takes, a lengthy interview with songsters Richard and Robert Sherman, and a pair of reprises make this reissue of the Jungle Book especially cool for parents. But kids will still high-step and carouse with tunes such as "The Bare Necessities" and "I Wan'na Be Like You" (famously featuring Louis Prima). It's a goofed-up fun set that the family will love.
"Lady and the Tramp [SOUNDTRACK]"
With Peggy Lee aboard, how in the world could a soundtrack such as "Lady and the Tramp" go awry? The good news is that it doesn't. Dating from the 1950s, the film holds up terrifically over time, with sidesplitting scenes the kids will cherish. The songs are great, too, and this 22-track reissue will amuse with its humor and enchant with the music you might not have noticed throughout the film.
LEARNING TO LEARN
We're deep into the second half of the school year by now. If your young ones are struggling with mathematics, they'll find a new, humorous appreciation for the subject with "Multiplication Rock." Here's a batch of humorous, sometimes silly songs that cut to the heart of the numbers game.
With numerous Cedarmont Kids CDs already on the market, "Toddler Tunes" could be an overflow or another sweet, entertaining chapter in kids' music. Happily, it's the latter. This one is great for the very young, entertaining them so that they listen carefully and keeping things nicely simple so the tykes remember.
OK, so "Putamayo Presents Cajun" isn't technically a Children's music release. It is darn fun to listen to, though, and it teaches kids a ton about music and culture. And with so much Cajun music originating in either dance steps or lullabies (or both) it'd be a shame not to cut the rug to these fiddles, accordions, washboards, and more. The colorful artwork, too, has all the markings of a CD that kids will love. So turn them loose on this set.
ESSENTIALS BY ARTIST
Even the most curmudgeonly parents have to give Raffi his due when they hear the singer's mix of clever lyrics and creative musical arrangements. Check out our Essential Raffi.
BEST MUSICAL ALBUM FOR CHILDREN
One of Toy Story 2's best subplots involved Woody's former life as a variety-show television star. Here's the music from the fictional variety show (that's also become a main attraction at the Magic Kingdom), imagined by those boot-scootin' cowboy songsters Riders in the Sky.
The children's music category was crowded in 2000, but "Woody's Roundup" stayed always in the front of the pack. It's musically fun, lyrically wholesome, and danceable. And it might even have your kids asking for more cowboy music, which is a good thing for anyone who likes organized sing-alongs.
BEST SPOKEN WORD ALBUM FOR CHILDREN
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire : CD Unabridged (Book 4) [UNABRIDGED]"
J. K. Rowling
All the fantasies, all the energies, all the books: here's the audio version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's ideal for those kids who are reading and rereading the book, trying to tie the story together. The reading might even inspire junior and sis to read aloud on their own.
How in the world could we pick anything but a great Harry Potter package when the whole world seems to revolve around the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
MISCELLANEOUS CHILDREN'S MUSIC AWARDS
"Toy Story 2: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack [SOUNDTRACK]"
Various Artists - Soundtracks
"When She Loved Me": The charm of "Toy Story 2" reaches beyond its funny narrative twists. The film's music makes one want to watch and rewind the film--and replay the disc. Sarah McLachlan's vocal on "When She Loved Me" is touching enough to cut it as pure pop and sweet enough to remind kids that "Toy Story 2" is only a song away.
"Aida (2000 Original Broadway Cast) [CAST RECORDING]"
How is it that Elton John and Tim Rice ever imagined they could transform Verdi's "Aida" into something resembling family entertainment? However they reached such an implausible conclusion, they were utterly correct. This "Aida" has the panache and glitz of teen pop, plus a good story underneath, a fine mix that kids 6 and older will enjoy.
"Radio Disney Jams, Vol. 3"
The third "Radio Disney Jams" compilation blasts out with all the bright energy of its predecessors. This star-studded collection of kid favorites reaches to both tweens and their younger compatriots with the infectious "Hampster Dance Song" and the flashy pop of Britney Spears and Vitamin C. In between are teen star Myra's version of "Dancing in the Streets" and Hoku's irresistible "How Do I Feel (The Burrito Song)."
Here's another set of finger-snapping, smart, well-produced ditties from Australia's Wiggles. "Toot Toot" has enough guitar and old-school keyboards to keep even the most skeptical music-loving parent interested. As for the kids, they'll simply bounce along to these 23 tunes and not even realize they're hearing lines like "Let's stop at the lights / Look both ways / Look both ways again / Wait for the traffic to come to a stop / Then cross the road with a friend."
If there's one trend in children's music worth celebrating unequivocally, it's the development of young, independent musicians bringing folk and 1960s-era pop to the stage for kids. Ralph Covert does just this, singing alongside acoustic guitars, mandolins, drums, bass, a host of kids, and his own giggly, delightful tunes. These are songs about trains, animals, and more played energetically and fantastically.
"All Wound Up"
Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer with Brave Combo
Texas's best-loved Polka band, Brave Combo, teams up on this set with two of kid-folk's best-loved performers, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. "Mockingbird Polka" opens the set with an uptempo kick, and then "On the Day You Were Born" mixes Hawaiian, Tex-Mex, and much more. This globe-traversing set belongs in every car and household--whether it's because you love neo-polka or Fink and Marxer's sweet, innocent sounds.
"Rocket Ship Beach"
Dan Zanes & Friends
Goodness gracious, the beginning of 2001 is a great time for music-loving parents. Singer and guitarist Dan Zanes's "Rocket Ship Beach" falls in step with "Ralph's New World." It's folky, hip, a bit rocking, and altogether a hoot. Classics like "Polly Wolly Doodle" (with Sheryl Crow singing), "Brown Girl in the Ring," and "Over the Rainbow" ensure that kids will catch on. A mix of kids singing along and musicians having a blast will make everyone else catch on. And it all comes in a well-designed board-book package that you'll want to flip through over and over again.
ON THE STAGE
"Seussical the Musical"
By now you've likely heard the buzz: "Seussical the Musical" is a wild, omnibus tour of Dr. Seuss's oeuvre. Even if you can't see the stage show, the CD will match the buzz. "Horton Hears a Who," "The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz," "A Day for Cat in the Hat," and a few songs for Mayzie are busy works that'll have kids' ears racing and their synapses firing.
"Aida (2000 Original Broadway Cast)"
You wouldn't be alone if you had a hard time envisioning Verdi's classic opera "Aida" as a kid-friendly stage show. In the hands of Elton John and Tim Rice, though, the work comes to robust life. Enough pop touches appear to keep the Radio Disney kids bopping along, and the story itself will compel the slightly older child to listen carefully.
CLASSICS FOR KIDS
"Elmo and the Orchestra"
Various Artists For children...
The gamble is this: if played with the right full-bodied excitement, Scott Joplin's greatest ragtime pieces will be grand for the kids. And in pianist Ric Louchard's hands, that gamble pays off. "Ragtime Romp" is great for the younger set--those under 3, particularly. It's got solid rhythmic footing, fast piano runs, and memorable melodies. If you ever wanted to dance to solo piano, now's the time.
STILL HOT FROM 2000
"The Abba Generation"
Critical opinions vary on Sweden's A Teens and their debut, this homage to ABBA. But don't doubt that kids will love this set of fast-paced gems. The compositions are the meat of the matter, with Abba's pop holding up exceptionally over time. The A Teens might simply be a tribute band on this CD, but they're also musicians who love their art and who appeal to the pop lover in every kid. Plus, they're a Radio Disney staple--which means the kids love them.
"Sooner or Later"
BBMak have chosen a more rock-inspired pathway to stardom than their peers in Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. It pays off on their U.S. debut, "Sooner or Later," which remains a favorite for tweens and those even younger. "Back Here" opens "Radio Disney Jams, Vol. 3" (see above) and this album as well. It's a fine little song that reminds you why kids love contemporary pop.
"Aaron's Party (Come Get It)"
At 12 years old, Aaron Carter has a voice that's kiddie enough to sound cute when singing "I Want Candy" and "Iko Iko," which is a good thing for the youthful listeners who flock his way. This is a fine preteen pop album that will remain high on kids' lists of favorites for a long while.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
New York-based singer Sherry Goffin Kondor has built the Sugar Beats up from a great idea to a wonderfully entertaining outfit capable each year of bringing out fresh, kid-friendly versions of pop tunes that you'll recognize from the near or distant past. The Sugar Beats have helped spur a movement to make kids' music hipper (without losing educational benefits, naturally), and the results are fabulous. Just check out "21 Really Cool Songs" from 1993 for an idea of their talents, which were still on full display in 2000 on their fantastic "Car Tunes."
ARTISTS TO WATCH IN 2001
The Wiggles are a giddy bunch. Although they keep a high silliness ratio in all their songs, they never dumb down the lyrics or their playful intentions. Guitar-based pop alternates with faux-Celtic melodies as these Australian blokes answer the call for more kid-friendly pop.
An elementary school music teacher from California makes the best case for singer-songwriter Gunnar Madsen's "Old Mr. Mackle Hackle": "The younger students beg for "Tiny Mosquito," the older students can relate to "I'm a Little Twerp," and my personal favorite is "Evelyn's Way." I especially appreciate the wide variety of musical styles on this album--from reggae to baroque to boogie woogie, there are styles and moods to meet any interest."
Music for Little People
The good folks at Music for Little People have made it their lives' passion to create and commission great songs and CDs that thrill kids. To date they've scored big on almost every project. This 15th anniversary celebration, which reprises highlights, delights with tracks from Buckwheat Zydeco, Los Lobos, the Persuasions, and more. It'll whet your appetite and have you on the lookout for more Little People releases.
The neo-folk acoustic guitarist Laurie Berkner has made quite a name for herself in the kids' music world. She's got a witty approach that's literate and still fully appreciated by any of the 2- to 7-year-old set. Her songs are smart and catchy, with giggle triggers aplenty.
With tunes like "Aren't I a Woman" and "Break the Barrier" alongside "Johnny Appleseed" and "First Man on the Moon," Jonathan Sprout's "More American Heroes" is a sprightly digest of American history that will have kids singing their way to cultural knowledge.
Josh Greenberg's Mother Goose Jazz Band
It's been a few years since Josh Greenberg's Mother Goose Jazz Band launched the innovative "Go with the Flow." We're hoping Greenberg will return to the studio soon to make more cool, jazzy tracks out of the stuff kids see and hear all the time.
Previews excerpted © 2001 amazon.com & associate ncdn and CDnow, TowerRecords, Barnes & Nobel associates