Monday, January 28, 2013

Harley, Munslow Pairing More than Fair

Nobody completes 50 years of on-the-job training and flops.

Bill Harley and Keith Munslow's long-awaited collaborative CD, IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME, is a rewarding collection; well-worth the 50 years it took them to master their craft to produce.

A two-time Grammy winner, Harley has entertained almost too many children and their families. The versatile Munslow wears hats as a standup comic, jazz musician, educator, and children's recording artist. The duo have been performing together on-and-off for years; we saw them at the 2010 Kindiefest event.

It's hard to pigeonhole and dissect certain artists and boil them down to 25 words or less. Harley could be described as "the kid's version of Harry Chapin," who takes his job of making children laugh at silly songs very seriously. Munslow uses his talents as a recording artist and illustrator to deliver a quirky multi-media experience.

They bring out the best in each other on IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME (the winning title in a song-creation contest sponsored by SiriusXM's Kids Place). You also get a ballad about correcting schoolwork ("My Eraser"), teasing ("Give Me Back My Hat!"), and comfortable albeit ugly clothing ("Hideous Sweater"). Playing virtually every instrument themselves, Harley and Munslow sound like they're having run and couldn't wait to share the results. The duo touch on some universal themes, such as "Everybody's a Baby 'Bout Something":

Someone scratched my uncle’s new pick-up
Something spilled on mom’s new rug 
My dad got stuck in the traffic
My teacher lost her favorite coffee mug
Grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts
Kids in diapers, men in pants
They all whine when they get the chance

It's hard to call musicians underrated when they've got decades of performances under their belts. If anything, the world of Harley and Munslow is a little claustrophobic and needs to be aired out, in front of a larger listening audience. In that respect, IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME is long overdue. Denying their collaborative spirit was not fair to the kindie landscape and I'm heartened they got around to correcting their error.

IT'S NOT FAIR TO ME is available through Bill Harley or Keith Munslow's web sites, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is a video of Bill's performance from Kindiefest, of "Pea on My Plate." For some reason, it has a ridiculous number of views from my YouTube page.

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