Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kids' Best Friends Return: Don't Scratch Dog On Fleas

One likes a children's recording group to have a sense of humor about things, including themselves. Even the "super-serious" legends of the business (think Raffi) descend into silliness now and then (think "Bananaphone").

A group like Dog On Fleas lives for the ridiculous. Why else would they jauntily skip from the "Grand March From Aida" to "I Must Be a Genius" on their new CD, BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA. Now in their 13th year of dementing the minds of youngsters, the trio (John Hughes, Chris Cullo, and Dean Jones) continues to stretch the concept of what's acceptance and appropriate for children...in a good way.

The spoken word "I Am a Sailor" is practically a performance piece, straight from the New York avant garde scence from the 1980s. "Herring's Head" takes a traditional nursery rhyme that hasn't seen the light of day in many generations and turns it into a rousing sing-along. Australia's Mr. Palindrome would approve of their "Palindrome," which features a large number of backwards-and-forwards wordplay. If you've ever visited a carnival or ridden a carousel, it's highly probably you've heard the calliope favorite, "Over the Waves."

While wearing his hat as an ├╝ber-producer, Dean Jones has mentored some of the most memorable children's music of the past few years, covering a who's who of varied artists from Joanie Leeds to Recess Monkey to Elizabeth Mitchell. BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA spotlights his folkie sensibilities and O. Henry versatility. Take the left-turn CD-closer, "If I Were You, I'd Give Me a Kiss":

If I were you, I'd give me a kiss.
But if I were you, then who would be me?

As Yul Brynner sang in "The King And I".... "A puzzlement!"

The informal attitude trickles all the way down to the liner notes, which list the composers by birth year. Suffice to say that it took centuries for this CD to be written. That's a long time to produce less than 35 minutes of children's music. But the kids will enjoy these tunes for a long time.

BUY ONE GET ONE FLEA is available at the band's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the new Dog on Fleas song, "I Must Be a Genius":

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