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Reggae for Kids: Movie Classics (RAS Records)

One of the enduring agonies of parenthood is having to listen, again and again, to terrible children's music. I don't have kids, but I know this is true because my own childhood was irreparably damaged by prolonged exposure to Alvin and the Chipmunks. The two decades since haven't exactly redeemed children's music -- Barney, Raffi and the Teletubbies have similar nerve-grating effects -- but one bright spot has been kids' reggae. In 1992, RAS Records released Reggae for Kids, an album of reggae covers of traditional children's music performed by some of the label's top acts. It quickly became the label's top-selling album. In 1997, RAS released a follow-up album, More Reggae for Kids, that met with similar success. The latest in the series, Reggae for Kids: Movie Classics seems primed to top them both: RAS has teamed with Disney to produce an album of reggae of popular Disney movie themes. For those who didn't exactly rush to theaters to see The Little Mermaid or Dumbo, it's worth noting right off the bat that reggae, and not saccharine kiddie tunes, is the dominant element. You may think you've heard "Bare Necessities," but you haven't until you've heard Tony Rebel sing it here. Ditto for Peter Broggs's "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" Two of the album's best songs, Arrow's "Under the Sea" (from The Little Mermaid) and Yami Bolo's "You've Got a Friend in Me" (from Toy Story), aren't even recognizable as children's tunes unless you stop and listen to the words. In fact, while kids will certainly appreciate the laid-back rhythms, Movie Classics' biggest selling point may just be that parents will, too.

 
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