A number of grown-up musicians are dipping their toes into the kiddie pool this year, with varying levels of success. Here's my quick overview of recent releases.
Rick Springfield - My Precious Little One: Lullabies For A New Generation
The "Jessie's Girl" singer is long past his teen idol days, with a pair of sons in their twenties. This album, which contains newly recorded versions of songs he wrote for his kids when they were infants, is a far cry from the bombastic arena pop that he's normally known for. The ten songs are remarkably gentle, sweet, and soothing, and Springfield's voice works well with the subdued material. I think all parents make up songs for their kids (I know I do), but they're rarely as memorable as these.
Ziggy Marley - Family Time
Reggae is just naturally kid-friendly music - the relaxed tempos, bouncing bass lines and fun sound effects grab kids by the ears and don't let go. So it's no surprise that the first kids' album from Ziggy Marley, the heir to the throne of reggae legend Bob Marley, would be a success. "Family Time" is solid from top to bottom - almost. The album is full of guest stars, including a great Paul Simon spot, but who had the bright idea to close it out with not one but two Jamie Lee Curtis spoken word pieces? They fall embarrassingly flat and leave a sour taste in the mouth.
Bob Marley - B Is For Bob
Ziggy is sadly less successful on this other project, in which he remixes eight of his father's best-loved songs to better suit younger ears. While a few of the tracks benefit from the tinkering, the majority of them were better (and just as kid-friendly) in their original incarnations. Most of Marley's music is sonically fine for kids, so you're better off going for the originals - or the Rockabye Baby Marley volume. One notable exception on this album is "Jamming," which adds a crazy, danceable energy to the tune, but it's not enough to recommend the record.