Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have been active in the children's music genre for nearly 20 years, with ten previous children's/family recordings as well as nominations and awards from a host of parent and literary organizations. Brave Combo, on the other hand, had not dabbled in kids' records before this venture -- yet it seemed like such a logical and perfectly natural next step. And what would a kids' record be without kids? The Hyattsville, MD, University Park Elementary School Ensemble, conducted by Betty Scott, contributes their voices to several cuts. The Fink and Marxer/Brave Combo union came together as a result of the 1997 Live Oak Festival in Santa Barbara, CA. Both were playing at the festival, and when Fink and Marxer witnessed the sheer frivolity that is Brave Combo -- as 5,000 kids, parents, and grandparents reeled in the joyous atmosphere -- the light bulb went on. All Wound Up is the result, a "Family Music Party" that adults truly will dig as much as kids. If you were already a Brave Combo fan who just happens to have kids -- you've hit pay dirt here. The styles of music presented are as varied as the two factions themselves. Four of the 12 songs are originals from either Fink, Marxer, or both, and Brave Combo bassist Bubba Hernandez contributes one tune -- a twist called "Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)." Fink and Marxer's originals include "Mockingbird Polka," "Swing It, Baby, Swing!," a waltz ("Home"), "Paddy on the Railroad/Dance Your Way to Texas" (which combines Celtic, old-time stringband, and Dixieland style), and the calypso-flavored "I Will Never Clean Up My Room." This one tells a long and wonderful story in which the storyteller finds herself getting into more and more trouble over her own personal disaster area, and it closes with -- of course -- a moral to the story (whew!). Other songs here are culled from the public domain and/or they are traditional songs that date back more than a century, such as "Funiculi, Funicula." It's a rollicking dance song by Italian composer Luigi Denza that was written in 1880 and has been recorded and performed hundreds of times, typically in tarantella rhythm. It's presented here as a charanga, a far cry from the harmony-laden, late-'30s version by the Mills Brothers -- and ten times the fun. Hernandez and Fink sing the waltz "De Colores" as a duet; the song is the favorite folk song of the United Farmworker's Union and has been recorded by Nana Mouskouri, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Raffi, Pete Seeger, Los Lobos, and many others. There's an Israeli folk song here in a hora style ("Mayim, Mayim") and a Harry Belafonte tune too ("Turn the World Around"). And just wait 'til you hear what they do with "Chopsticks."
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AllMusic Review by Ann Wickstrom