Sunday, May 11, 2008

***Randy Kaplan***

Some people go into a kids' album project with the idea that they have to become this goofy alter ego in order to appease the "children's music" preconception. Not so Randy Kaplan. No, Kaplan has a unique style, musically and lyrically, that translates smoothly to the kids' music world without having to change a thing.

The talespinner in Kaplan shines through on his latest children's CD, Loquat Rooftop, with songs like the New Orleans shuffle "Clothes Dryer", the talking blues "No Nothing", the superdescriptive "The Ladybug Without Spots", and "Loquat Rooftop", a stream of consciousness account of a lovely evening atop a Brooklyn apartment building. Randy is a storyteller at heart, and it really shows on Loquat Rooftop.

As with "Over the Rainbow" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" on last year's Five Cent Piece, Kaplan knows how to pick just the right cover songs, tunes that you think would be too hokey to make the cut on a kids' record, but are somehow transformed into classic singalongs. This time 'round, "Tomorrow", from Annie, is given the sweetest treatment you'll ever hear, while versions of Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues", Leiber & Stoller's "Charlie Brown" and Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" rock enough to make yer kids wanna explore the originals.

Throw in some tunes like the poppypunk "Mazal Mazal", the silly "The Sour Song", the mini-skit "Boogie Woogie Washer Woman", the tender "(Don't Say) Anything at All", and the most "kids' song" song on the album "The Fire Engine", and, hey! you've got yerself a pretty solid CD!

Loquat Rooftop is Kaplan at his best: Memories; images, figurative and literal; sights, sounds, smells, flavors, textures; humor and fun ... all in the form of a song. Randy is one of Brooklyn's hidden gems in the world of kids' music. Get to know him before he breaks out bigtime.

Just got word from Bill Childs over at Spare the Rock, that Randy has ventured over to the Left Coast to seek his fortune ... Brooklyn's loss is L.A.'s gain! Good luck, Randy. Park Slope'll miss ya.