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Jah, man, the kiddins will dig reggae collection

More Reggae for Kids
More Reggae for Kids
By various artists

RAS Records: 1997

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This review first appeared in the December 27, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Few musics are so inherently kid-friendly as reggae. The hypnotic rhythms, the sing-song vocals, the joyous energy all combine to create a sound that is instantly engaging and listenable. But let's face it: Most reggae isn't marketed to kids: With marijuana and politics being predominant themes, the lyrics just aren't going to appeal to the kindergarten set.

Which brings up a really neat project from RAS, the leading reggae label in the United States: Reggae for Kids. The second installment features some of the best and best-known reggae artists around, including Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer and Freddie McGregor. The songs are both covers and originals; most have lyrics written especially for the young ones, either extolling the virtues of education, community and honesty or just being silly ("Hush Daddy's Baby," a remake of "Hush Little Baby," promises that "Daddy's gonna catch you a doctor bird/If that doctor bird won't hum/ Daddy gonna buy you a bingy drum").

Some of the covers wouldn't necessarily strike you as either readily adaptable to a reggae interpretation or as being geared toward kids. Yet Yami Bolo's reading of Bacharach and David's "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and J.C. Lodge's version of "What the World Needs Now" (also by Bacharach and David!) both show how universal reggae is, and how with kids an honest approach is far more important when it comes to reaching them than is conforming to preconceptions. Likewise, Don Carlos' interpretation of the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye" and Charlie Chaplin's "Rasta Row the Boat Ashore" (taken from the spiritual "Michael Row the Boat Ashore").

But the roots of reggae aren't forgotten: Bob Marley's classic "One Love" gets a wonderful treatment from Freddie McGregor, and Gregory Isaacs does a wonderful job of making "Day-O" sound fresh and hip.

Perhaps the best part of this release is that it just grooves – Mom and Dad can bop to it along with the rug rats. Unlike many albums for kids, this is the kind of CD that the whole clan can share.