And so my journeys through the universe of world music continues with a trip down under for Putumayo Kids' AUSTRALIAN PLAYGROUND. First the obvious joke – there isn't a Wiggles song in the collection and it's still crackin' good fun.
On the other hand, the organization must have caved to some internal pressure and finished the disc with Lazy Harry's version of the standard, "Waltzing Matilda." I have memories of the song from the film ON THE BEACH, which is not a kids film. Please remember that, despite the inviting faux-summer title.
The album begins with the reggae tinged, "Marrtjina" by The NEO And Garrangali and progresses through the beachcomber-esque ukelele tune "Mango Rain" by Seaman Dan. For a native story song, Bob Brown delivers "Give Me A Home Among The Gumtrees" with enough local references to choke a dingo. The song is more than 40 years old and an Australian classic, though not widely known off the continent.
The key to Putumayo Kids is giving children some of what they are familiar with – and then activating the cultural factor. "Kangaroo (The Super Marsupial)" by iconic Aussie Don Spencer is a lesson in singalong fashion. You might expect American kids to roll their eyes, but it's got a universal appeal.
There's a Dixieland quality to "The Road To Gundagai" from the Band Of The South Australia Police, founded in 1884 as a volunteer brass band to perform at public parks, gardens and government functions. The nearly 100-year-old song comes alive anew under the skilled production Putumayo production team. And remember, one percent of Putumayo’s sales will be contributed to the Australian Children’s Music Foundation in support of their initiatives to provide music programs and instruments to disadvantaged children in schools and juvenile detention centers in Australia.
If you're like me, world music does not come easily. Overcoming the language barrier is not an issue here, so this playground is wide open and inviting. Bring the kids and stay for a fast-moving experience.
AUSTRALIAN PLAYGROUND is available through Putumayo Kids and Amazon.