H. Lynn Kitchens

Rockin' With the Goose

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It's an idea you are either going to love or hate. Singer and multi-instrumentalist H. Lynn Kitchens -- who has been knocking around the music business in the American south since the 1960s, forming a band here, playing bass for someone there -- says he got the idea when he was driving in his car with his nine-year-old niece listening to a classic rock radio station and found she knew the words to all the songs that came on. Why not, he thought, create a classic rock record for children? So, what he has done here is take nursery rhymes and set them to music that sounds like mainstream rock of the 1960s and '70s. "Humpty Dumpty," for example, employs the unmistakable horn style of Chicago, while "Bunch of Blue Ribbons" uses a melody and arrangement that strongly echoes the Beatles' "Baby's in Black." Then there's a version of "Little Boy Blue" that sounds like it belongs on Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, and a take on "Wee Willie Winkie" to which you can nearly sing the Elvin Bishop Group's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." "Jack & Jill" is given a blues-rock arrangement that is reminiscent of ZZ Top's "La Grange." And so on. The point, it seems, is to create children's music that will be palatable to baby-boomer parents as well as their kids. Kitchens, who has spent his career playing the music of his betters (or at least his better-knowns), certainly knows his way around this music and performs it both competently and affectionately. The question is, when you hear a nursery rhyme dressed up as a classic rock anthem, is it going to make you smile or cringe? Maybe a little of both.

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