Artist: John Hadfield
Genre: Children's (ages 5-13)
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Duct Tape Festival, Rhyming Song
At first, I’ll admit, I wasn’t going to review this disc. We listen to a lot of kids’ music around here, mainly folk and world. It’s what my wife and I like, so we’ve sought that out for our daughter as well.
But our five-year-old kept clamoring for more Robot Monkey Head after the first time I played it. She seems to dig the title track and “Bunny Foo Foo” the most, and it is awfully cute to watch her sit in a big chair between the speakers like the dude in the old Maxell tape ads.
And several of these tunes (“Uncle Tony’s Dentures,” “Duct Tape Festival,” “Bad For the Roads But Good On Chicken”) are my-kind-of-folky – demented, but folky. In fact, the bluegrass players on “Uncle Tony’s Dentures” shred.
Now, in order to get into some of these songs, I had to think like a fourth grader. “I Like Beans” has the obvious flatulence jokes, and the life-without-bathing humor of “Stink Monkey” is sort of gross. But there’s no denying the hypnotic funk of “Stink Monkey,” and I think it’s more important for fourth graders to learn about serious groove than about what those dour Pilgrims did at the first Thanksgiving.
“Duct Tape Festival” is my favorite, set to a high lonesome, minor-key cowboy melody. And the words are very, very funny. Hadfield does the lyrics – musical collaborator Geri Smith and producer/multi-instrumentalist Marc Moss deserve credit for the diverse stylings they add to the words.
“Rhyming Song” – an anti-rhyming ditty – is also clever. Hadfield is wisely building a fan base with these tunes and “Bad For the Road” (it's about salt and it's pretty educational) – songs more suited for older kids and even adults.
“Bunny Foo Foo” (anti-bullying), “Best Friends” (imaginary pals) and “Ready Fire Aim” (think before you act) have positive messages for kids. And “Ready” rocks sorta like Green Day.
Funny touch, closing with “Principal’s Office” – an everykid tale with a twist, and a musical cross between Peggy Lee’s "Fever" and the old novelty chestnut “They’re Coming To Take Me Away.”
I’m glad I changed my mind and decided to take the full excursion into John Hadfield’s brain. Parents, you’ll dig many of the songs. Your kids, particularly around middle school age, may drive you nuts playing this CD again and again.