Apparently, this is a pretty rare record. There are crazy prices for this one on Amazon, Ebay, and Discogs right now, so who knows. I can see this being a fond memory for someone who heard it in elementary school, and I'm sure it has never seen a CD release, which adds up to nostalgia-value. (By the way, I added the FOR THE EARLY YEARS part because there was a second LP for INTERMEDIATE YEARS.)
I bought this mostly for the striking cover, and secondly because it was a children's record, which I figured might give it some entertainment value...and, let's face it, I planned on making fun of it. However, it's really pretty good for what it is! I mean, if you go in expecting the feel of a late-70's classroom.
There are really two kinds of children's records. There are the ones that fail in some spectacular way (and we have all seen these), either through: lack of effort, too much effort, misrepresentation, underestimating the intelligence of the audience, or even just being abstractly inappropriate in some strange way. And then there are the others, where, even if it's not your cup of tea, you have to admire the work and skill level that went into them. This is one of the latter group. I think my point here is that caring about what you are doing makes a huge difference.
I mean, just look at the photo on the back cover. Comedy gold, right? I mean, sometimes there is a thin line between elementary-level entertainers in flaired trousers and Nehru jackets and creepy ice-cream truck driving predators, right? (Clowns come to mind...)
Maybe I am protective of that elementary school-era from my own life, but I just couldn't do it. Even with one side being instrumental--surely that must mean they were phoning it in? No, because it was intended for teachers to use, allowing the students to sing the songs.
The songs are well-crafted, professionally backed, and are even educational. Imagine how it would be done today! You would have an approved website that a teacher would have to sign into, where bored students would have to listen to somebody rapping about multiplication tables, over a MIDI backing track, or something. We have become so hackneyed, and so afraid of offending each other, that we have lost the personality and feeling that was once inherent in much of our entertainment, especially children's entertainment...but without flying off onto a tangent, let's think back to the days where you had to ask permission to check out some clunky headphones--the ones with the overly-heavy, curly cord that wouldn't stretch--and for some enjoyable, solitary moments, you got to use the classroom (or library) turntable, and you had this wonderful, mysterious machine all to yourself.
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