DAVID LANDAU – Kids and Kitties
(2005 Milkbreak Music)
There are two types of movies for children: the ones that are strictly for kids (anything involving the Rugrats, Clifford or Winnie the Pooh) and those that are equally entertaining for adults (anything by Pixar). The former can induce saccharine overdose in anyone over the age of twelve, while the latter draw as many laughs from the grown-ups as they do from the kids. Children’s music falls into the same categories; for instance, collections put out by Bloodshot Records (the terrifically titled The Bottle Let Me Down) and artists like Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers fame) appeal to the parents with artists they know and songs that are a little more complicated than the noisy sing-alongs of the Wiggles or Barney.
Despite backing from his very talented bandmates in the Cork & Bottle String Band, David Landau definitely plays to the rugrats on his CD Kids and Kitties. His eleven years teaching first grade in Verona has certainly informed his song choices; these are songs that children love to sing. And he has an enthusiastic bunch of them joining him, singing along on the whole song or sometimes just on the choruses. Nine of the eleven tracks are traditionals or adaptations of songs, some well-known (“She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”) some less so. “Apples and Bananas” was taught to him by a four-year-old who “drove all the teachers bonkers.” Not surprising given the madness-inducing repetitiveness of the song. It consists of one line, “I like to eat eat eat apples and bananas,” with each verse changing the vowel sound of every word.
A surprising majority of the tunes are counting songs: “Five Little Frogs,” “Three Little Muffins,” “Five Little Hot Dogs,” and crowd pleaser “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” Each song follows the same format: something happens to one of the objects in the title (jumps in the pool, falls on his head) and there is one less in the next verse. The preponderance of fives, and therefore five verses, may indicate the extent of a child’s attention span.
Landau makes the “Hokey Pokey” a little more interesting by naming less-pokied body parts such as the tongue and eyeballs. The two originals that finish off the disc blend right in with the old favorites. “Why Is My Kitty So Silly?” tells us exactly why and “Bye-Bye Sweetie-Pie” is an appropriate parting song. The CD clocks in at under twenty minutes, and only three songs break the two-minute mark, which will have kids pushing play over and over, but may drive their parents bonkers.