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Various Artists - Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along

Putumayo Hit and Miss with This Sing-Along

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Various Artists - Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along

Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along

Courtesy Putumayo World Music
We're a big fan of the Putumayo World Music record label, and, more specific to this site, the Putumayo Kids Presents line of releases. The label usually does a great job of collecting songs from around the globe for kids and their families, but Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along just doesn't hit the mark. A few great songs are included on this compilation, but most are simply so-so. Let's give it a listen...

The Putumayo Kids Record Label

The Putumayo Kids record label, a division of Putumayo World Music, has a long history of creating high-quality compilations for kids and their families. From lullabies to play songs and sing alongs, from traditional tunes found in our own back yard to unique songs from around the world, Putumayo Kids has it covered. Recent releases include the jumpin', jivin' Jazz Playground, the jazzy, laid-back Cowboy Playground, and the soothing Acoustic Dreamland, one of the best kids' music CDs of 2011.

The Music of 'Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along'

World Sing-Along opens up with two songs that are a little too obvious, "La Cucaracha" by El Salvador's Jorge Anaya, and "Waltzing Matilda" by Australia's Fiddlers Green Bush Band. Not only are these first couple of tunes too prototypical of the cultures they represent, the instrumentation of the first is machine-like and impersonal, while the second is limp and lifeless. Helio Ziskind performs the Brazilian tune "Como Vai?" in Portuguese, but, again, the slick backing instrumentation doesn't represent Brazil at all. Asheba livens up the proceedings a little as he performs a song from Trinidad, "Ah Sailor." Then comes another song seemingly on autopilot, "Krokodil," a German-sung tune by Switzerland's Roland Zoss that sounds like a computer-generated theme song from a kids' TV show. This first batch of songs is redeemed, however, by the inclusion of Frances England's wonderful "That's What Friends Are For," the first tune on Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along that has any heart and soul. "That's What Friends Are For" was first released on the 2010 Spare the Rock Records compilation Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti.

More Music from 'Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along'

The sparse "Shang Xue Ge (The Going to School Song)" is performed by A Little Mandarin, utilizing only vocals, mandolin, and keyboard xylophone, while the equally sparse but immensely more joyous "Jig Jog Gee" includes hand percussion, stand up bass, tremelo guitar, and the vocals of Father Goose, Screechy Dan, and Dan Zanes. "Jig Jog Gee" originaly appeared on Father Goose's 2007 album It's A Bam Bam Diddly!. Get ready to dance with Jose Conde's "Pititi y Titi," a Cuban tune that almost commands listeners to move along to the beat. Dan Zanes makes another appearance with "Jamaica Farewell," another danceable, but quiet and laid back, tune performed with vocal help from Angelique Kidjo. This version of "Jamaica Farewell" originaly appeared on Dan Zanes' great album from 2003 House Party. Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along comes to a close with a USA for Africa-like "Around the World," perfomed by the Pihcintu Multinational Children's Chorus.

The Verdict

The Putumayo record label is almost unfalteringly consistent with the quality of their releases, even within the Putumayo Kids Presents line. But Putumayo Kids Presents: World Sing-Along just doesn't make the cut for me. The collection is redeemed by a few artists like Frances England, Father Goose, and Dan Zanes, but listeners may as well pick up the excellent albums from which their songs are extracted. Great try, Putumayo, but we'll be waiting for your next great compilation.

Released October 30, 2012; Putumayo World Music

Track Listing

  1. "La Cucaracha" - Jorge Anaya
  2. "Waltzing Matilda" - Fiddlers Green Bush Band
  3. "Como Vai?" - Helio Ziskind
  4. "Ah Sailor" - Asheba
  5. "Krokodil" - Roland Zoss
  6. "That's What Friends Are For" - Frances England
  7. "Shang Xue Ge (The Going to School Song)" - A Little Mandarin
  8. "Jig Jog Gee" - Father Goose, featuring Screechy Dan & Dan Zanes
  9. "Pititi y Titi" - Jose Conde
  10. "Jamaica Farewell" - Dan Zanes, featuring Angelique Kidjo
  11. "Around the World" - Pihcintu Multinational Children's Chorus
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