Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Uncle Moondog

That's right, it's another "uncle" here at Cool Tunes for Kids... First Uncle Rock and now Uncle Moondog.

Uncle Moondog is a very cool cartoon dog who lives on Sunshine Island. Musician Mike McManus produces Uncle Moondog's music with great flair and versatility, and his self-titled first album is a favorite of mine in the kids' music genre, with very memorable hooks and melodies and fun production and arrangement throughout.

The album starts off with the bouncy and catchy "New Goldfish", which introduces the dawg and his new pet goldfish, Timmy (see the video below). Next up is "Percy the Pelican" which has a great B-52s meets The Munsters kind of riff. "Stanky Socks" has a see-saw hook to it, as Uncle Moondog describes his most foul hosiery. "Bampy's Bungalow" starts with a "Centerfield" riff and has a Jimmy Buffet feel. "Dancing With My Dog" is next and it's my favorite on the album... a fast country-ish tune with a terrific hook and some really nice doo-wop backing vocals. I'm not really sure why a dog would have a dog, and the concepts of these songs don't always make that much narrative sense in terms of a character/story arc, but so what, they're a lot of fun and this isn't meant to be a story or concept album. Uncle Moondog's voice (which is somewhere between Dr. John and McGruff the Crime Dog) is an especially perfect fit for the bluesy "Bathtime Blues". The doo-wop comes out in full for the very cute "Penny", which is my wife's favorite track. This tune has some quite tasty tremolo guitar, and there is a lot of really sweet guitar playing throughout the album. The Uncle shifts to an 80's pop/rock/new wave sound (somewhere vaguely in the range of Gary Numan and The Cars) for "Shufflin' My Feet". The album ends with the reggae track "Porpoises, Pelicans and Palm Trees", which includes some amusing interludes with Timmy, the fish.

While Uncle Moondog's voice is well-fitting and engaging for a cartoon dog, the voice of Timmy, the fish, may be an issue for some people. It's your basic Chipmunks or "Flying Purple People Eater" kind of voice, and my feeling is that it would have been better in smaller doses. Timmy appears in the first song, and that's fine, but then he's also in the next few songs and by then you may have heard enough of him, especially with certain words and phrases of his cutting through in a more piercing way. Your kids will probably have a higher tolerance for Timmy's high-pitched, silly voice, though, so don't let that get in the way of enjoying what is a great album, regardless of that.

I don't have Uncle Moondog's second CD, Baloney Cake, but from samples online it sounds like more of the same, which is a good thing when "the same" is as well-written and well-produced as the first album. Uncle Moondog has an eCard video of "The Birthday Song" from Baloney Cake available on his website at this link.

Uncle Moondog's website

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