Mr. Richard

Tummy Talk

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The past few years have seen a tremendous growth in the children's music world, with kids -- and parents -- given more listening choices than Barney and Raffi. Richard "Mr. Richard" Peeples hails from Orlando, FL, and he injects a refreshing dose of the South into his kids' music. The title track is propelled by a funky beat. A roadhouse piano and gritty guitar fuel "Stinkeroo!," whose coda tips its cap to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell." Mr. Richard colors his ode to pouting, "Cry Baby," with some blues tones. "Buddy the Back-Alley Cat" is a bluesy tune, too, but one of the slinky, finger-poppin' variety. Throughout his disc, Mr. Richard displays an entertaining musical scope. He casts "Doggie Dreams," a portrait of a sleepy dog, as a gentle, piano-based lullaby, while "Crashing the Skunk Cotillion" rocks in a fun and lighthearted way. Mr. Richard's eclecticism, however, cuts both ways. Some of his songs seems best for the preschool set ("Bobo Baby Jay," for example), some for the elementary-school crowd (like "Tummy Talk"), and some feel aimed more for parental enjoyment (such as "The 'Please-Don't-Tell-Me-You're-Gonna-Wear-That-Super-Hero-Costume-Again' Blues"). While this range might make his music good for the whole family, it also makes this disc seem a bit scattershot. Mr. Richard doesn't possess the strongest voice, but his everyman singing style fits the appealing, homey quality of his family music. The songs themselves also have a simple, homemade aspect; however, they are by no means the work of amateurs. Jimbo Mathus, the former Squirrel Nut Zipper-turned-Delta bluesman, co-produced this disc as well as playing a number of instruments. His slide guitar work enlivens the terrific "Gimme Back My Toes." On this entertaining album, Mr. Richard brings a bit of the juke joint to the schoolyard.

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