Reggae for Kids

Various Artists

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Reggae for Kids Review

by William Ruhlmann

The producers of this reggae entry in the Universal Music Family series of budget-priced compilations for children, credited as "Doctor and Mrs. Dread," have ranged around the catalogs of RAS and Sanctuary Records for reggae versions of familiar pop standards that are, or can be adapted to be, children's songs. Gregory Isaacs' version of Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon" is an obvious example, as is J.C. Lodge's reggae treatment of Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow." Eek-A-Mouse's "Safari" turns out to be an adaptation of the Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," while Michigan & Smiley's "The Reggae Rock" might be better known as Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin." The Three Dog Night catalog proves especially adaptable to the children's reggae theme, with Freddie McGregor Featuring Brigadier Jerry handling the group's "Black and White," and Roots Radics mixing their "Joy to the World" with Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Without Brigadier Jerry, McGregor performs an actual reggae song that is appropriate to the theme, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." When it comes to songs that are not covers of old hits, Bunny Wailer's original "Back to School" is full of counting and nursery rhymes, its lyrics in keeping with the album cover note that the disc is intended for "Ages 2+." Children may have to be well into the plus category to make much of Black Sheep's socially conscious "Time to Think," but its message remains fairly simple, and, as with the rest of this album, the music's rhythmic characteristics will be engaging to children even if the message is a bit beyond them.

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