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Various Artists - Sesame Street Playground

Sesame Street Playground

Various Artists

Putumayo Kids - PUT 283-SL

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

There are very few labels in the world where one is prompted to say "Doesn't matter what the title is, buy it!", but the Putumayo World Music imprint is one of them. With unerring taste and superb production values, it continues to present irresistable children's music for all ages, drawn from just about everywhere on the globe. Thus, it was only a matter of time before they got to Sesame Street, and this is the result. Being an aficionado of that program and its offshoots, Fraggle Rock and the Muppets, for decades (a very eyebrow-raising revelation for a headbanging, proggy, jazzed-out, neoclassical, avant-gardist critic to confess to), I'm a sucker for just about anything in the zone, but this release helps redefine what it means to pay homage to such things. The 13 cuts here were gathered from exotic locales like Palestine, Tanzania, and Israel, as well as from China, the U.S., and the more prominent large world-stage presences. To hear the angelic voices of kids from anywhere, especially in harmony, is a treat but especially when they're wafting aloft Sesame Street Theme, Elmo's Song, Rubber Duckie, and other well-known cuts. Ah, but then there are the 5 original songs from other cultures thrown into the mix. Adults also chime in, but the majority of skew is to the children.

If you caught my reviews for other Putumayo product on this site, then you know what to expect: a heavenly mellifluous anthology of ambrosia. That most of the lyrics aren't in English is a bonus, becoming ever more musical for their slight distance from the cognizable literal. The September release (so long to wait!) will carry a 5-cut DVD as well as the music CD, and I have only one complaint: a couple of tracks are cut off abruptly, not fully in keeping with the 110% professionality of Putumayo. That said, the aim of the label's ongoing endeavor is to bridge continental and cultural distances between children, a very good project indeed in an age of conservative xenophobia and hatreds, the sort of act that provides anti-regressive healing over and above the beauty and pleasure derived from the sheer artistry of every cut. If you can listen to the disc and not smile at each selection, I strongly suggest you cut work right now, walk to the beach (or mountains or forest or desert), and get back in touch with your humanity. You'll then be ready for Sesame Street Playground and grinning like a monkey, or Big Bird, in short order. Bravo to Putumayo!

Track List:

  • SesamStraat (Netherlands): Sesame Street Theme
  • Takalani (South Africa): That'iphepha (Pollution Song)
  • Sesame Street (USA): Elmo's Song
  • Zhima Jie (China): Xiang Pi Xiao Ya (Rubber Duckie)
  • 5, Rue Sesame (France): La Chanson de l'Amitié
  • Ulitsa Sezam with Na-Na (Russia): Pesnya Dvornikov (The Song of the Caretakers)
  • Sesame Street (USA): Sing
  • Plaza Sesamo with Aleks Syntek (Mexico): Ricas Frutas (Delicious Fruits)
  • Galli Galli Sim Sim (India): Galli Galli Sim Sim Theme
  • Shara'a Simsim (Palestine): Ohgneyat Al Lo'ba Al Sha'beyya (traditional game song)
  • Rechov Sumsum with Ronnnie Rock (Israel): En Den Dino
  • Kilimani Sesame (Tanzania): Usihuzunike (Don't Be Sad Song)
  • Vila Sésamo (Brazil): Uma Pequena Voz (One Small Voice)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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