Paul Taylor
& Don Spencer,
Cooee: Songs &
Stories from Down Under

(Kiva, 2002)

Wow! What a CD! Cooee was a surprise for me, sent from a musician whose my work I had recently reviewed, Steven Eulberg, who had provided some of the sound effects on this CD. Not only did I enjoy it, my telephone repairman was actually dancing to it (and he is roughly 20 years older than me, since he came out of the Navy when I was only 3). Obviously, this CD appeals to all ages.

Cooee is like no other CD you have heard. Aussie storyteller and didjeridoo player Paul Taylor teams up with one of Australia's leading children's performers, Don Spencer, to present songs, bush ballads, stories, humor and Aussie sound effects to entertain every listener. Tracks range from the traditional Aussie "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" to a lyrical folk song to a '60s "shu-bop" style to a herd of kids, the Kookaburra Kids, rapping and singing behind the lead singer. When I say "herd of kids," I mean 16 students from Kruse Elementary and Pioneer School in Fort Collins, Colo. This CD covers all many musical tastes and styles. There is something for everyone.

The stories are, like the songs, of extremely diverse styles, from the sad story of how Taylor's ancestors were shipped to Australia to the mesmerizing folk tale about how the original bird people came to speak different languages to the haunting love tale of the swaggie Joe and Matilda to the hilarious tale of Mulga Bill's first bicycle.

The humor will get you laughing out loud. Taylor explains how to make a didjeridoo. Although he says that you can even pick up the exhaust pipe when it falls off your car and play it, I would not advise trying it. Stick to PVC pipe.

There is no way to credit all the musicians on this CD, 32 from America and Australia, in the standard length review. Suffice it to say that the entire CD is packed with talent stacked upon talent! Likewise, there is no way to select one track as the best or favorite. I sure did identify with "Home Among the Gum Trees" and share the opinion that a home with a veranda in the front, clothesline out back and a front porch swing is the ideal life. I love the last track, "Kookaburra Song," where all the kids are doing different parts. I challenge listeners to figure out how many different parts are layered in this song.

This CD is a fascinating look at the Australian culture and heritage. It is educational as well as entertaining and will fascinate all ages. If it can get the telephone repairman and I to rap and dance, imagine what it can do for you!

If I have not convinced you to buy this one already, please consider that the proceeds from this CD go to the Aboriginal People of North Australia, Yidumduma Bill Harney and the Wardaman People. Now, you have a good cause, so order a copy of this marvelous CD today and prepare yourself for just over an hour of the finest entertainment to be found.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 3 May 2003

[ visit Paul Taylor's website ]
[ visit Don Spenser's website ]