Yosi is a fun and energetic performer from New Jersey. He's released four kids' music albums, and they all have some good songs, but seeing as today is Thanksgiving (btw, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!) and Thanksgiving is known for copious food consumption, I thought I would focus on Yosi's latest release, What's Eatin' Yosi?
When most rock bands release concept albums, they tend to be very grandiose kinds of subjects, like the repression of individualism on Rush's 2112, the class structure metaphors of Pink Floyd's Animals, and The Downward Spiral depicting Trent Reznor's um, downward spiral. But kids' music concept albums tend to be focused on things like "having fun" or "lullabies" or "animals" (but not usually in the class structure metaphor way) or "socks" (well, I predict that socks will be next year's big theme of choice). Food-related songs do crop up quite a bit on children's albums, and the many different kinds of foods would seem to be a good source for material, so Yosi had a good idea with this concept.
What's Eatin' Yosi starts off with a rollickin' Nawlin's style romp called "Let's Get Cookin'". Yosi has a Buddy Holly kind of yelp and twang to his voice on this one, and it's a great first course for the meal, copping Hank Williams' "good lookin'/cookin'" rhyme on the refrain.
There are some other tasty morsels on the album... "Pass the Purple Pesto Pasta Please" is next, and the title says it all on that one. It actually builds up from that phrase to things like "Pass the purple pesto pasta in a porcelain pitcher," with Yosi ably twisting his tongue to get it all out. I might have gone with a porcelain platter, though, but I suppose pouring from a pitcher might be a faster means of pasta distribution. Regardless, it's a really cute song and a swingin' Dixieland sound makes this track a favorite of mine to snack on. "Chilly Chili" has a sweet Frank Zappa and the Wailers kind of vibe and a catchy vocal. The traditional song "Bulbes (Potatoes)" has a bouncy eastern European sound with some delicious clarinet on top by Mark Fineberg (who also adds some nice saxaphone on "Don't Doodle"). "Fresh Brown Eggs" is a chewy folk duet with Yosi and Brady Rymer. "Just Desserts" is a 50's style rock 'n' roll dish, served cool. "Schlurpknopf" is an amusing Rocky Horror style sci-fi number about the favorite food of aliens everywhere. "Spaghetti Worms and Meatballs" is an a cappella barbershop song that reminded me a little bit of The Music Man, A Mighty Wind and Arlo Guthrie (confirmed by the direct Arlo parody at the end).
Strangely, the album ends with a song called "I Just Love You", which has no reference to food at all (and it could have with that title, if he were talking about food). I suppose that might be the after-meal conversation, or meant to be a post-script in the way that "All You Need is Love" sort of 'answered' the Sgt. Pepper's album, but I'm not sure how it would connect with the food theme in any way.
Some things like "Chicken Noodle Soup" and "Eat, Repeat" didn't taste that good to me, but then again, I can't fathom why anybody would ruin a perfectly good piece of pizza by putting mushrooms all over it. But of course, some people love mushrooms. So who knows what you might prefer. Some of the songs taste really good at first but kind of go on a bit long, so it's almost as though someone gave you a nice piece of pumpkin pie and you were like, mmmm, but then they kept feeding you more and more pieces of pumpkin pie over and over. But on the whole, it's a cool album with a good variety of musical food groups represented.
I'm not sure what the overall meaning of the concept is supposed to be, though, and there are some important questions left unanswered... Does Tommy's pinball proficiency make a difference to how much he likes chicken noodle soup? Did Ziggy Stardust eat schlurpknopf on Mars? Did Syd Barrett really come into the studio during the recording of "Spaghetti Worms and Meatballs"? We may never know. But that's the thing about concept albums... they can get you thinking in different ways. In this case, thinking about food... but let's face it, food is something we animals think of often, and probably still will be a major focus of our lives even in 2112.
Yosi had a fun idea to go along with this album, by hosting a webpage with recipes from several notable kids' music performers, writers, and media folks. Click here to check that out, and look for my "Where's Waldorf Salad" and "Hippy Hippo Shake".