Speaking for all my fellow 30 year olds out there, I feel confident in saying that we all know of at least one same-aged peer who never really grew up. Their favorite poet is still Shel Silverstein. They like to pop into the toy store when they are at the local mall. And a whoopee cushion is still good for a chuckle.
I also feel safe in saying that this is the exact listener that John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood had in mind with this CD. Yes, they say is was all for the kiddies, but listening to this CD will bring a tickle to the adult ear every bit as much as the kid's.
There are some really adventurous things on this CD that are sure to captivate the imagination and playfulness of all listeners. "Where's the Music," for instance, consists of brief segments of funk that, when they come to a halt, are greeted with kids shouting, "Where's the music?," upon which the groove resumes. (Who can't imagine their kids getting in on that act? And the title track is a playful remake of Johny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere," this time, capturing kids imaginatiosn with a laundry list of exotic places. And then there is a kid chanting "Pat a Cake" to an ultra-funky drum loop. Need I say more about that one?
Then there are some of the instrumental tracks. (About 2/3rds have vocals and the rest don't.) To be honest, many of these tracks sound very much like some of the more "down to earth" stuff that MMW has performed over the years. Just as most of us could picture kids dancing to, and having fun with, those jams, so will they with these. They are imaginative, exploratory, and to a child, maybe even funny and amusing. (MMW does like to throw in strange sounding instruments like the thumb-piano and the gamalan.) The CD is also peppered with more "lullaby" sounding material, like the slow and sleepy "Old Paint," which I think is one of the most beautiful and sensitive songs I've ever heard MMW play. (Most fans would not even believe that it was them.)
The only concern I have about this disc - if I were a record executive, the concern would have been tripled - is where the market is for this CD. My worry is that kids might be a bit confused by this CD (especially the instrumental tracks), and adults might find this to be too "surface level" compared with the MMW they know and love.
My guess is that in the end, this might be the musical equivalent to Harry Potter, not in its success (!) but in the fact that what was intended for kids might find more receptive ears in their parents. Most reviewers have noticed this album's appeal to the whole family. They are correct. But I bet that this CD will wind up getting more rotation in the living room than the play room.