Artist: Band: Asylum Street Spankers
Album: Mommy Says No!
Label: Yellow Dog Records
Genre: Children's (ages 5-13)
Normally, I would not be the first person in line to review a CD purportedly recorded for children. Sure, Free To Be You and Me was a cultural landmark, and while it is true I have been known to be childish from time to time, I tend to leave such things to my daughter and her kids. That said, when I was going through my stack of new CD’s and I came across one called Mommy Says No! by Asylum Street Spankers, I was intrigued. Obviously, this was not going to be the run-of-the-mill kid’s CD.
I put on the CD and what surprised me was how good it really was for both kids and adults. The lyrics are intelligent enough to appeal to adults while still be accessible (at least most of the time) for kids. The subject matter, while aimed primarily at elementary school kids and younger, should strike a few nostalgic chords with parents as well.
The opening song, Be Like You, sets the tone and gives the listener a good idea of where the CD is going. It is an acoustic number complete with toy xylophone and bicycle bell. It is nothing less than a love song by a mother to her son. More than just expressing love, it expresses admiration for the child’s ability to do and experience things that we lose once we become adults. Children are seeing things for the first time, and we as adults are allowed to share that sense of wonder with them. It is one of the great gifts of parenthood and this song evokes it wonderfully.
Don’t Turn Out the Lights is about a fear that is common to many children, what is lurking in the dark once the lights are out. The monsters in the closet or under the bed are real enough to the child and this song is a plea to Mommy to leave the lights on to keep the monsters at bay. The singer is trying to be strong in the face of her fears but some trepidation lingers.
The title track Mommy Says No! is punk rock for kids. It is a litany of everything the singer wants to do but Mommy says no. Whether it is going outside to play or eating ice cream and candy all day, Mommy says no. Mommy even has a solo in this one. Every child will recognize their own situation in this song, and those of us who have been parents recognize both sides.
No review would be complete without mentioning one song in particular. Undoubtedly, it would be my brother’s favorite song on the CD. The song is titled simply, Boogers. Yes, the one subject sure to leave any eight-year-old boy in hysterics is the subject of this song. The premise is that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, while boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails just like the nursery rhyme says. But everything is made of…you guessed it…boogers. I will spare you the list, but it is very clever.
The songs on this CD vary in style, genre, instrumentation and point of view, but they are all united by that gentle insanity that is childhood at its best. It shouldn’t replace Free To Be You and Me, but it does provide another point of view. And it is certainly entertaining. For more information on the Asylum Street Spankers and Mommy Says No!, go to www.yellowdogrecords.com/spankers.