CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 11 . . . .January 19, 2007
Surrey, BC: Amazing Christophan Music (11838 99A Ave., V3V 2R1 or www.chrishamilton.ca/media.htm), 2006.
1 CD, 46 min., 10 sec., $14.99.
Children's songs-Juvenile sound recordings.
Children's songs-Canada-Juvenile sound recordings.
Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.
Review by Jeff Nielsen.
Funk-soul kiddies - check it out now! Canadian Chris Hamilton has unleashed a dancing-around-the-house album. Hamilton is a former member of the Vancouver fun-folk band the Clumsy Lovers and, like Mike Ford formerly of the similarly-minded Moxy Fruvous, he's begun aiming for the wee set.
The boogie of the title shouldn't be taken as a definitive genre classification. In fact, Hamilton two-steps all over the stylistic map using 'danceable' as his major criterion. It's boogie in the broadest sense of rhythmic music aimed at the feet. The song "Boogie Child" is a straight-up mid 70's disco groove; "Real Cool Cat" has a jazzy feel, and the high-speed bluegrass "Mamma's in the Mini-van" plays as getaway music for Volvo-driving soccer moms. Then, just when you're asking "where's the reggae song?" along comes the ska-rribean "Buried Treasure." The modus operandi is fun; all the musicians here - even the background singers (who have a thankless task if ever there was one) - seem to be having a blast.
Hamilton (who was recently written up in the Nick Jr. Family Magazine) claims that in his songs "the lyrics are for the kids, the music is for the parents." This is reasonably fair. This album sounds more like a K-Tel compilation than a Raffi album, and parents will probably play the spot-the-style game with each new song. Like any Pixar movie (let's say Toy Story Two) Hamilton layers his work so that it winks towards the parents' own younger years and yet plays it broadly for the kids. The latter element can be problematic. Certainly the trend in music, film and stories written for younger audiences is to include more gross-out humour. As an example, Hamilton actually dedicates an entire song to booger jokes. That said, the lyrical thrust is primarily concerned with detailing life from a child's point-of-view and deals in great topics: building stuff, keeping your teeth clean and waiting for your mail-order package to arrive.
This is a fine album for families (my three-year old asks for it by name) and could find a place in any classroom peopled with young dancing machines.
Jeff Nielsen teaches high school history in Lorette, MB. In his own elementary days, he kept a vinyl copy of Marlo Tomas's Free to be You and Me in heavy rotation.
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