Alan Lomax's name may legitimize Singing in the Streets as authentic folk music, but don't expect old men and women singing ancient songs in a thick accents. Instead, Singing in the Streets features both children and adults singing Scottish children's songs. There are lots of small tidbits like "Harry Lauder and Mussolini Are Dead" and "Chinese Government," the kind of nonsensical songs kids sing just for the hell of it, and longer pieces like "All the Boys in London." Perhaps it takes an immature adult to find humor in juvenile things, but it's loads of fun to listen to a group of children sing "My girl's a corker, she's a New Yorker/I do most anything to keep her in store/She's got a pair of hips, just like two battleships." From a scholar's point of view, this collection allows a rare look into the street songs that children sing, ripe for sociological interpretation. For the casual listener, on the other hand, it's a chance to enjoy timeworn songs like "A Tisket a Tasket" and "Down in the Valley," along with less familiar fare like "Queen Elizabeth Lost Her Shoe" and "Jelly on a Plate." Occasional interviews and commentary add to the project's scholarly value but bring the flow of the album to a standstill. Together with the shortness of most of the songs, Singing in the Streets can seem fragmented. But the 50-minute album offers a full look at a lost place and time (Scotland in the '40s), and the children's vocals are a pure joy.
Singing in the Streets: Scottish Children's Songs Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.