Various Artists

Kids Nursery Rhymes, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus

Kids Nursery Rhymes, Vol. 1 is an intriguing collection of children's music standards and strange gems from a scarier past. It begins with an odd little song called "Aerophane Jelly" that may or may not be about the tasty French treat. With its female-chorus vocals and loping, slightly unsettling rhythm, the song suggests the campy, naïve genius of the Shaggs, or those deceptively twee ditties that always accompany the crazed maniacs' childhood flashbacks in 1980s slasher flicks. In fact, many of the tunes on Kids Nursery Rhymes, Vol. 1 have more in common with the bizarre antics of Deerhoof or Petra Haden's 1999 masterpiece, Imaginaryland -- artists and albums that reprocess the candyfloss and whimsy of children's albums into twisted adult lullabies. "Cockles and Mussels" opts for a harpsichord and a faux-cockney accent to portray the story of Molly Malone and her wheelbarrow, while the Oliver! outtake "Food Glorious Food" features the classic lyric: "Hot sausage and mustard/While we're in the mood/Cold jelly and custard." The song really only works as a nursery rhyme if you're a street urchin in a newsboy cap and dirty ankle boots. Things get a bit more conventional with "Fuzzy Wuzzy" and "Going to the Zoo." But a brief, music-box version of "Hot Cross Buns," performed in the round, is just a few thees and thous away from Mediaeval Baebes. By the home stretch, which is sort of a medley of five different "little" songs ("Little Miss Muffet," "Little Peter Rabbit," etc.), Kids Nursery Rhymes, Vol. 1 has proven its allegiance to the spooky side of the Brothers Grimm. While the album isn't recommended for actual children, it is a must-have for any fan of creepy clowns and cockney accents.

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