Organist and sax master Chris Wiser and drum thumper Rob (Dr. Rock) Martin have been at the Sugar Free Allstars game for a while. Having met at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the duo finally gelled as a musical twosome after the exit of guitarist Mike Satawake and original drummer Andy Moore. Three CDs into their career, the Sugar Free Allstars decided it was time to turn the kids on to their brand of Memphis soul, New Orleans funk, and amusingly witty lyrics. All on a Sunday Afternoon is the band's third CD for kids and their families, beginning with 2007's Dos Ninos, 2010's Funky Fresh and Sugar Free, and 2012's All on a Sunday Afternoon.
Music from 'All on a Sunday Afternoon'
All on a Sunday Afternoon kicks of, literally, with an insistent kick drum thump demanding that everyone's "Gotta Get Up" and get on with another exciting day. Kids' music friends Jack Forman from Recess Monkey and Shawana Kemp of Shine and The Moonbeams join Sugar Free Allstars on "Gotta Get Up." Next comes the swaggering, bluesy "Hiccup," driven by Wiser's Hammond B3 organ and punctuated by the quirky, jerky rhythms of a kid's hiccups in the chorus.
Dr. Rock's snazzy drums (very well-recorded, by the way) begin a "Sunday Afternoon" celebration of family togetherness, highlighted by the bass and guitar of the kids' music duo Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet, better known as Trout Fishing In America. The rhythm workout "Put 'Em Away," sounds like a cross between a New Orleans drum line and a Philly Soul 45, and features percussion help from Marty Beller, They Might Be Giants' drummer and sometime singer; the swaying, soulful pop of "Very Best Friend" seems to invite listeners to clap their hands and sing along during the chorus.
More Music from 'All on a Sunday Afternoon'
Everyone is familiar with that preschooler who constantly asks "99 Questions" about the way the world work, and Sugar Free Allstars celebrate this inquisitiveness with an all out organ-driven gospel romp. "Stay Up Late" is Sugar Free Allstars' second inclusion of a pop song cover on one of their CDs. The first was a jaunty rendition of The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da," from the Fab Four's 1968 record The Beatles (aka "The White Album"), found on the Allstars' 2010's CD Funky Fresh and Sugar Free. This rendition of Talking Heads' Top 40 hit "Stay Up Late" doesn't stray too much from the original version found on 1985's Little Creatures, but the Allstars give it their own funky seasoning.
Dig the groove of "Love Train," wherein Chris Wiser lyrically references Don Cornelius, James Brown, The O'Jays, the Motown and Stax record labels, and his own Hammond B3. And if a kids' song can be called badass, it's "Ice Cream Truck," a head-bobbin' ode to summertime frozen snacks. The album closes with the quiet storm of "Ready to Give Up Teddy," as Wiser croons about a kids' decision to go without his teddy bear tonight.
Sugar Free Allstars' third kids' music release strengthens their hold on the funk genre of family music entertainment. But don't think of All on a Sunday Afternoon as strictly a booty shakin' party: Chris Wiser and Rob Martin's songs are celebrations of family gatherings, of the minutia of growing up, of lazy Sunday afternoons that should be enjoyed "'cause it'll be gone soon."
Released June 12, 2012; Wiser Music
- "Gotta Get Up"
- "Sunday Afternoon"
- "Put 'Em Away"
- "Very Best Friend"
- "99 Questions"
- "Stay Up Late"
- "Love Train"
- "Ice Cream Truck"
- "Ready to Give Up Teddy"