Best New Children's Music 2012 / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem – Ranky Tanky CD Review


The Sound: Flower power meets front porch rock-n-roll.

In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: Dean Jones & Felice Brothers, Alastair Moock, Randy Kaplan

Best Moments: When I was younger, my Dad would sing “Purple People Eater” and it’d always make me giggle.  The song remains pretty special to me, conjuring up happy thoughts of a childhood, too much of which I’ve regrettably forgotten.  I’m kinda surprised I’ve never heard a rendition of “Purple People Eater” on a kid’s CD before now.  It makes perfect sense; a song about a 1 eyed, 1 horned flying monster that eats purple people seems too good NOT to sing to children.  Before “Ranky Tanky” arrived, my girls only knew of this odd creature from their Pop pop who will still, on occasion, sing a verse or two for them.  Now armed with the full tune, they too have fallen in love with the crazy musical tale.  Daisy Mayhem inject a relaxed sense of space into Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” and take full ownership of the kiddie classic.

Taking ownership is something the band does successfully with a wild array of covers; Cat Stevens, Tom Petty (“Wildflowers”), and John Gorka (“Branching Out”) just to name a few. But adult tunes aren’t the only ones covered on “Ranky Tanky”.   A pair of songs from kid’s acts – Billy Jonas and Renee & Jeremy – are also given the Daisy Mayhem treatment and I couldn’t agree with Warren Truitt more when he states that kid’s bands covering other kid’s bands proves the vibrancy of the genre (in his recent review of “Ranky Tanky”).  Imagine the Dreyer Family Band covering 23 Skidoo’s “Luck” or Lunch Money reworking Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s “Going to the Moon” – more kindie covers would be a great thing to hear.

The whimsical “Kee-Mo, Ky-Mo (The Magic Song)” is dazzling here.  While it’s damn near impossible to top Nat King Cole’s version of anything, Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem’s nimble, fiddlin’ take on this novelty song will “steal your heart away”.

With “Branching Out”, Daisy Mayhem turn the sing-song chorus into a barbershop quartet number, if the barbershop was in, say, Boone, NC.  For me, this version trumps the original.

The Bear’s reaction: She absolutely loves singing and dancing to “Tennessee Wig Walk”, randomly belting out lines while strutting around the house, then she’ll “wiggle and waddle like a baby duck.”

Bonus Thoughts: Check out this live performance of The Meters/Funky Meters’ “They All Ask’d For You” recorded during an in-studio for Bill Childs’ & his Spare the Rock radio show.

Bonus Bonus Thought: Sample 4 of the tracks, including the Bear’s favorite, here.

Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: With “Ranky Tanky”, Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem set out prove that kid’s music can simultaneously be loose and tight.  The band succeeds, in spades.  I fell in love from the 1st note of the CD, which begins with an interpretation of Cat Stevens “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out”.  While many of the songs on “Ranky Tanky” are not originals, they are original.  There’s a finger snapping, swaying & swinging vibe running throughout the 45-minutes, a feeling of comfort like a warm blanket that once belonged to your grandmom.

Buy “Ranky Tanky” here.

*Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem’s “Ranky Tanky” was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

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