Lulu & the Tomcats,
All the Cats Were Playin'
(self-produced, 2001)

This is that rare thing valued by the parents of young children -- high quality children's music that isn't sickeningly sweet and doesn't give the parent a headache. In a style reminiscent of Duncan Wells or Teresa Doyle, Lulu and Tom Neufeld have produced a fun-filled CD that works for a wide age-range. To tell the truth, I found myself playing it even when my children were not around.

Written mostly by Lulu, the songs range from the upbeat funky sound of the title track, "All the Cats Were Playin'," to the ballad sounds of "A Dragon Named Howard" and the lullaby that ends the CD, "Sweet & Low." The progression from fast and funny to quiet and soothing works well for those who are trying to settle down a carload of children, or send one to sleep. It also avoids any jarring juxtaposition.

Edward Lear's "The Owl & the Pussycat" makes a lovely and entertaining little ballad, with perhaps enough familiarity to draw children in to this recording on first listening.

Although a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour can be entertaining for adults when listening to children's music or stories, there is a trap that adults performing for kids and adults sometimes fall into, which is to make in-jokes with references that children don't understand. I'm glad to say that this recording doesn't do this. (Not that there is anything wrong with producing different levels of humour for different level of understanding. It's just that children know when they are being condescended to.)

"The Minute Waltz" is a quirky little monologue-song that made me and several children who heard it want to try the same feat of fitting the song-about-singing-a-minute-long-song into 60 seconds, ending breathless and laughing. A good party trick if you can do it!

- Rambles
written by Joyce Rankin
published 26 April 2003