Jim Henson's genius touched every aspect of media. He was the perfect showman, an all around entertainer. If he had stuck with television, he would have been highly respected. If he only worked in film (the Muppet movies, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth) he would still have been thought a genius. If he had only produced albums for children and parents, he would have made a worldwide name for himself. Jim Henson was not content restricting himself -- his love was not focused on one medium, but like an earthly parallel to God, his love was for creation and craft itself. And like a sub-earthly parallel to earth, Fraggle Rock debuted in the '80s on HBO. It was not the best of Henson's achievements (though you don't tell that to its dedicated fans). It was a quirky and charming world of its own that really didn't need comparison to the classic Muppets. In an amusing, though risky, scene from Muppet Christmas Special the Fraggles met the Muppets for one brief moment -- singing their well-known song "Pass It On." The Fraggles sing it on "Music and Magic" and on a Fraggle album is where it belongs. This album's original music was composed and written by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee and the tracks are quite frankly charming -- even the slighter songs are great listens. Terrific values are demonstrated by these brightly colored creatures who sing rambunctious party tunes but not for the sole reason of fun. They express a desire for understanding and direction -- much like Kermit's "Bein' Green." They are a soulful bunch with some very hip choir back ups -- "Convincing John" sung by Henson is a great sample, "Is It True" is exhilarating gospel pop. Gobo Fraggle has some of the best moments on the album with "Only Way Home" and his duet with Uncle Traveling Matt on "Follow Me." There are also the expected classics, "Catch the Tail By the Tiger," "Pukka Pukka Pukka Squeetily Boink," and guest spots by doozers, who spend all their time in construction work, only to have their buildings eaten by Fraggles. In tribute to their world of parallels, kids will eat this up too.
Review by Peter Fawthrop