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Various Artists - European Playground

European Playground

Various Artists

Putumayo Kids - PUT 291-2

Available from Putumayo Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

If the label is Putumayo, then whatever you're considering getting is worthwhile, that now goes without saying. I've reviewed a number of their releases, and each one is either delightful, as in kid discs like this one, or a gorgeous anthology of presentations following a theme of one sort or another. European Playground is a companion to their Sesame Street Playground release (here), a bright and bouncy energetic collection of child-oriented tracks from all over Europe. That they're sung in many languages is relevant, as the record is obviously intended as much for adults as their progeny, much like the gorgeous Chris van Allsburg books and such. As well, it exposes children to the tongues and sonorities of the young around the globe.

The presentation is their hallmark gatefold of disc, extensive booklet (in four languages), and artful liner, and the recordings are perfect to a fault. I don't know how they manage to maintain such stratospherically complementary levels from country to country, but they do, resulting in a seamless listening experience. A few tracks will be recognizable (Stop Den Lille Kaenguru is Tie Me Kangaroo Down and Annaliese, very surprisingly, has a distinct Boys Don't Cry refrain and environment) but all are jazzily folk-rhythmic items reflecting each culture's modes and ways.

Parts of this are friskily dancey, and one can picture little girls two-stepping around the living room while it's playing, while other segments are anthemic, ambiant, and thoughtful. It's very clear, as I said a moment ago, that adults will enjoy European Playground immensely, recalling days long gone by while looking out the window at their own progeny and smiling. The CD invites grown-ups to travel back to the days when one's attention was captured completely by catchy music and one wished to learn the song or imitate it, sharing in the gratifying creativity. More to the point, it lays out a menu of 15 great main courses and side dishes to be happily consumed by youngsters, cuts to whet and then sate their endless curiosity and appetite for art and entertainment.

Track List:

  • Sas & Kopp - Trampolin (Finland / Sweden)
  • Les Demenageurs - Bonjour Tout Ve Bien (Belgium)
  • Herbe Treehead - Change Song (England)
  • Mek Pek - Stop Den Lille Kaenguru (Denmark)
  • Alma Zenekar - Tudom en Mar, Mit Csinalok (Hungary)
  • Alain Le Lait - En Voici, En Voila (France)
  • Locomondo - Den Kenai Krio (Greece)
  • Buscapolos - Titi Troca-Tintas (Portugal)
  • Alex Schmeisser - Anneliese Germany)
  • Ian F. Benzie - I'se the B'y (Scotland)
  • De Band Krigt Kinderen - Alles Uit de Kast (Netherlands)
  • Bielle Nuei - Tarantainas de la Casa Sin Pared (Spain)
  • Roland Zoss - Barengeburi-Bubuland (Switzerland)
  • Giovanni Caviezel - La Canzone del Battellto A Vapore (Italy)
  • Sharon Shannon - Sandy River Belle (Ireland)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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