Tuesday, August 04, 2015

BeatleMania Redux for Caspar Babypants

Music can change your mood and it can also change your future. Chris Ballew (aka Caspar Babypants) had his world rocked at the age of two by the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." More than four decades later, he is returning the favor with his second collection of covers for kids and parents, BEATLES BABY!

Avoiding many overly familiar (and more mature-themed) numbers, Caspar still finds 21 tracks to reinvent and reintroduce. If you're tired of hearing the melancholy of "Hey Jude," try this CD's skiffle version. The timeless psychedelia of "Strawberry Fields Forever" is effervescently amped-up to new speeds. And "Baby You're A Rich Man" gains an '80s new-age feel.

If you don't know Caspar Babypants, the capsule is simple – he's the sideline venture for Ballew, front man for The Presidents of the United States (warning: web site not frequently updated). Ten albums later, Babypants is in regular rotation on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live as well as in homes across the nation and around the world. Producing CDs at a Brian Wilson-esque output level, Ballew took a step back from original compositions in 2013 for BEATLES BABY! A noble venture, the CD was hampered by the (copyright- and legal-rights) quagmire of not being able to produce videos to promote it. Love for the source material won out and inevitably, much like a container of Pringle's potato chips, he could not stay away from a second helping.

Musically, BABY BEATLES! is as satisfying and solid as anything in the Babypants oeuvre. A home studio fanatic, Ballew is ridiculously competent. "With a Little Help From His Friends" is provided by vocalists Rachel Flotard and Jen Wood and spouse Kate Endle, whose cherubic illustrations and cover artwork have helped define the Caspar Babypants persona.

Part of the Babypants recording process is to document the "story behind the music." As such, you never have to wonder "Why did he choose..." any particular song. From the seemingly-obscure "For You Blue" to the omnipresent "The Fool on the Hill," Ballew is refreshingly transparent. When you have an inquisitive four (near five) year-old, this helps answer a lot of "why" questions. Our older son (14) has heard all the Beatles' originals, but not his younger brother. Which negates any comments about altered arrangements – as far as the little guy is concerned, this is it. Never mind the Beatles, these are Babypants songs now. And as far as I'm concerned, that's fine. As long as this music has changed his future as well as his mood.

BABY BEATLES! is available September 18 from Caspar Babypants' website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.

Here is the video from his last CD, "Up All Night":

Post a Comment