Various Artists

Rock Your Baby: Red Hot Rompers for Children of All Ages

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British comedian and radio/TV presenter Mark LaMarr selected these 24 tracks, described on the back cover blurb as "child-friendly offerings...guaranteed to satisfy kids of all ages." Here's guessing, though, that it will be children over the age of 40 who spin this collection most often, since the accent is on silly if infectious rock, R&B, country, and calypso songs from the late 1940s through the late '60s (with just a couple of stragglers from the '70s and '80s). Which is hardly to this anthology's detriment: it's not only a consistently fun listen, but also has quite a few songs by both well-known and obscure artists who even those fans who buy Ace Records compilations might not have heard before. Yes, the Kingsmen's "Jolly Green Giant," Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home," the Newbeats' "Bread and Butter," and Shirley Ellis' "The Name Game" were big hits. But you'd be hard-pressed to hear anything else on commercial radio stations these days, even the tracks by Johnny Cash, Louis Jordan, Sam the Sham, or Cab Calloway. A good number of these songs are indeed funny in the way that children of parents with large eclectic record collections will enjoy, like King Coleman's funky, ebullient "The Boo Boo Song." There are a few novelties too (like Bob McFadden & Dor's "The Mummy," written by, of all people, Rod McKuen). But overall, most of these cuts hold up well as both lighthearted and/or comic tunes with genuinely good musical performances, much of the kid-friendly quotient getting delivered by lyrics having to do with animals. And although this is on the less serious side of what Ace usually reissues, LaMarr's liner notes are just as thorough and well-researched as the label's usual such compilation, revealing some unusual, unsuspected connections. Who would have thought Wayne Carson, responsible here for the hillbilly novelty "I Couldn't Spell!!*@!," was the same guy who wrote (as Wayne Carson Thompson) the Box Tops' "The Letter"? Or that King Coleman was the same guy who sang on Nat Kendricks' 1959 hit "Mashed Potato"? It all adds up to that rare compilation that can be enjoyed by both children and adults without embarrassment, even if the grown-ups in the room might actually be more likely to be enthusiastic listeners.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:47
2 3:07
3 2:42
4 2:00
5 2:04
6 2:29
7 1:57
8 2:48
9 2:32
10 2:00
11 2:19
12 2:21
13 3:02
14 2:46
15 2:02
16 2:21
17 2:38
18 1:50
19 2:37
20 1:53
21 3:00
22 2:03
23 2:46
24 1:58
blue highlight denotes track pick