The Sound: Many decades worth of Rock & Roll style.
In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: Bill Harley, Brady Rymer, Dan Zanes, Uncle Rock, Rhythm Child, Starfish – or, simply put, they sit with themselves.
Best Moments: This disc (available June 29th) is loaded with Grammy Award talent; Nominee Brady Rymer’s “Jump Up (It’s A Good Day)” is rock-n-roll circa John Cougar Mellencamp – joyous, bouncy, and acoustic guitar driven with a full, rich sound. 2-time winner Bill Harley lends his humorous, pre-Beatles era ditty “Sleep the Whole Day Through”. It’s got horns, hand claps and some Jerry Lee Lewis piano – in other words, it’s awesome. 2007 Grammy winner Dan Zanes chips in with the movement-inspiring “Let’s Shake”, which sounds downright low-fi next to the bigger production of Peter Himmelman (nominee) and Roger Day, while the New Jersey band of dads known as Starfish simultaneously channel Meatloaf and Billy Joel on “The Starfish Stomp”.
Steppenwolf’s classic “Magic Carpet Ride” gets a low-key, bluesy makeover courtesy of Uncle Rock and the familiar “Oh Susanna” has never sounded better than it does here on Norman Jones’ djembe – so good in fact, that as far as I’m concerned “Oh Susanna” is an original Rhythm Child song.
Bonus Thoughts: A 4-date tour has been scheduled to support the release of Rock & Roll Playground. While a pair of West Coast dates have already passed, you can catch Starfish at the Scholastic Store in NYC this Saturday (6/19) and Rhythm Child (who is kinda mind-blowing live – see video below) at the Grove in Los Angeles on 6/24. Both shows are free. More info here.
Bonus Bonus Thought: In a bit of clever promotion and audience engagement, Putumayo Kids and Starfish are holding an Air Guitar contest! Winner gets a free in-home concert from Starfish lead singer StingRay. Details here and here:
Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: If there is one obvious knock against the long running series of Putumayo CDs, it’s that for many Americans (myself included, at times), the globetrotting compilations are rather inaccessible. Rock & Roll Playground, in contrast, does not suffer from that ailment. In fact, this sturdy collection should land right in the wheelhouse of any rock-n-roll loving family. The CD is also a super launching pad to explore further the deep, impressive catalogs of some of the artists here (many of whom I’ve reviewed on OWTK, so poke around a bit here).
Instead of spanning dozens of countries, this new Putumayo Kids CD covers time – nearly 60-years of rock music in fact – and the results are highly enjoyable. Turn off the classic rock radio station, ’cause the lively, multi-generational Putumayo Kids Rock & Roll Playground is more than capable of serving as the outdoor summertime soundtrack for your next pool party, cookout or family reunion.
*Putumayo Kids “Rock & Roll Playground” was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.