Billy Goats Gruff, a Puzzle and Jubilee Celebrations. This round of childrens' music gives us a great combination of folk tales, food, a jigsaw puzzle and celebrations - so lots of fun out here!
Three Billy Goats Gruff and Food and More
Superb Canadian childrens songwriter Andrew Queen came already to FolkWorld's attention in one of my previous columns. While his last album, "Too Tall", was already a favourite in the Moll family, his latest album "Grow" is an even bigger hit. In fact it is so popular that since it arrived 6 weeks ago, it has never left the CD player in our car and is played - and sung along to - on a daily basis. And we all (yes also the parents) still love it!
Already on his previous album, Andrew Queen showed that he is at his very very best with his song adaptations of well known folk tales - and this time there are directly three of these: There is "Stone Soup" featuring all sorts of nursery rhyme characters; and "Whoa Jack" a catchy and inventive song telling of Jack and the bean stalk. And - the highlight of the album - "Three Billy Goats Gruff" with very clever lyrics and full of great lines for young and old to sing along to (taster:
"Who's that trip tropping over my bridge
I am a hungry troll with an empty fridge")
and with an end to the song which varies from the folk tale and is much better than the original!
Beyond that, a key theme throughout "Grow" is food, with Andrew Queen songs about childrens favourites - such as "Macaroni and Cheese" (a dish which makes a surprisingly great chorus!) and a "Pizza tree" - or about local produce. There are a couple of colour songs (orange and green) and "There ain't no flies on us" is yet another great one to sing along to. And all these great songs feature also great music (excellent folky line up including guitar, fiddle, accordion, mandolin, piano, drums, tuba).
This is one of the best childrens songwriters in the English speaking world, and this gem of an album will remain, I have no doubts, an all time favourite in my family.
A Puzzle and CD
After folk tales and food and great music, we come to the "play" section of this column - as we received a review copy of a Puzzle! Well it is not only a puzzle - in fact the content of this attractively designed "The Wheels on the Bus" box feels to me about as random as a party bag can be: There's a 16 piece jigsaw floor puzzle, 20 stickers and an activity/drawing/songsheet booklet all themed around the song "The Wheels on the Bus". And finally there is also a CD included in the pack - "The Wheels on the Bus plus other action songs".
So given that this is a music review column, I suppose I'd rather focus on the music (even though the puzzle is the biggest hit for my kids in this pack). Published by a company called "Music For Kids", the musicians and singers on the album remain unknown - nowhere on the box or CD or website could I find reference to their identity. The CD features 12 well know English childrens songs - with several lasting only 30-40 seconds (e.g. "Row Row Row your Boat" and "Grand Old Duke of York"). The music is OK to listen to, but for readers of this column it may sound a bit non-discript and will not be particularly memorable to its listeners.
But if this was a party bag it would not be a bad mix at all...
Nobody in the UK will have completely escaped the jubilee celebrations this spring. Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee has been celebrated up and down the country. A slightly lesser known, but to readers of this column possibly as important, jubilee celebration is taking place in one of the UK's nations. They may only have been around half of the period of the queen's reign, but for a childrens band this is nevertheless a big achievement: Scotland's high energy childrens' folk performers The Singing Kettle are celebrating their 30th jubilee.
The BBC Scotland News Website writes: "Scottish children's entertainers The Singing Kettle are celebrating 30 years since they began performing. Husband and wife Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise, who founded the group in 1982, are now of pensionable age but there are no signs of them hanging up their kettle." Read the full article at the BBC website!
(1)-(2) CD Covers, (3) The Singing Kettle (from website.)