Thursday, March 10, 2011

Album Review - Celebrate Broadway Vol. 7: Kids

By Sherry Shaffer

It’s difficult to say what the compilers of "Celebrate Broadway Vol. 7: Kids" were thinking when they decided to put together this album. The synopsis provided says it is “a collection of songs for kids, about kids, and with kids. More than anything else these songs are about fun – so sing and laugh along with them or form your own group…” As far as I can tell, the whole thing was made up to cover for the fact that they had leftover songs in their inventory that they didn’t know what to do with. Either that or a high up boss somewhere wanted it done for their own weird purposes.

The album begins, predictably enough, with “Kids” from Bye Bye Birdie. They use the movie version, perhaps because there wasn’t a Broadway recording available. It isn’t a very clear copy, but at least it makes sense for the theme. In the same vein, the next song is “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan with Mary Martin in the lead. “Getting to Know You” from The King and I follows Martin, and then the whole thing starts to fall apart.

I can handle a “kiddie” album. It can be a fun bit of nostalgia and you might really want to get the family together and belt out some tunes. But when you follow “Because It’s June” from Carousel with “Hair” from Hair, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The Carousel song is from the 1965 revival cast album, featuring Katherine Hilgenberg in all her old-school musical glory. It’s a pleasant song, but what does it have to do with kids? Granted, it’s about getting randy in the spring, and that often results in kids, but it’s hardly a reasonable tie to the title. Following it with “Hair” is just plain jarring. The style is so different it’s tough to recover enough to listen to the rest of the songs.

This compilation is just filled with bizarre – and bad – decisions. For instance, if you’re going to include “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – which isn’t remotely a kids’ show – why make it an instrumental on an album that you’re encouraged to sing along to? Worse, it’s an instrumental from the 1992 Carnegie Hall Sondheim Celebration and the amazing Bill Irwin performs with the orchestra. You can hear the laughter from Irwin’s antics, but, of course, you can’t see any of it.

Ethel Merman singing a lullaby? With all due respect to the Broadway great; her voice is not made for soothing, and of all the fun songs from Annie Get Your Gun, why choose this one?

A mash-up of “Sixteen Tons” and “Chain Gang” from Forever Plaid? (Those aren’t even Broadway tunes!)

A near-offensive song sung with a fake Mexican accent from a 1960 Lucille Ball flop? Need I say more?

What the heck??

There are a couple of good songs on Kids but not enough to justify buying this hot mess of a compilation. You could do much better on your own with a subscription to a music service and the CD burner on your computer.

Celebrate Broadway Vol. 7: Kids
Original Release Date: November 22, 2010
Label: Masterworks Broadway
Copyright: (P) 1995 Sony Music Entertainment
Total Length: 41:51

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