Monday, April 23, 2007

***Peter Himmelman***

Quick tip for making a "good" kids album ... play who you are. That is, don't try to become what you think the public perceives a "children's musician" should sound like, just perform your music as you normally would. Play it, and they will come. So ... here's a guy whose style incorporates a little bit o' Costello, a little Springsteen, some Winwood, kinda Jersey Shore summertime bar bandish, a sprinkling of Memphis R&B, with harmonies and chord changes McCartney wouldn't say no to: c'mon, people, let's fly a kite! Specifically, Peter Himmelman's My Green Kite, the fourth kids' album from this L.A.-based musician and arranger.

The album kicks off with what would be a great concert opener: handclaps leading into a roaring intro, followed by three opportunities for group singalong: you can yell the song's title "Feet!", join in the call and response "I love my feet!", and enthusiastically sing "School's out!", and that's all in the first song!! Then comes the title track's awesome chorus; and later the question, would "Another Bite of Hay" really make me a happier person?
Other songs let us know that Mom's a great cook and Dad isn't as nerdy or boring as his accounting job would make him seem. Three must-hears are "A Dozen Roses", a folky rhyme set to rowdy rock and roll; the NuWave psychedelia of "Have You Ever Really Looked At an Egg?"; and Himmelman's deft and sarcastic beat poet rap "Nothin' to Say", whose horny funk backing music could have been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest.
This is one busy dude who, thankfully, takes the time to turn in another high-quality kids' collection. He could be running on autopilot by now, having released 10 adult albums, six CDs of unreleased tracks, and a compilation of his work with his original band, Sussman Lawrence. But somehow Himmelman gets better with each release, which is good news for kiddierock lovers everywhere. One of the secrets of his success is that Himmelman is Himmelman - he plays who he is, and the superlative results shine through.