Review: Monkey Business - Eric Herman and the Invisible Band

As a parent of a pre-schooler, I've heard lots of CDs with pretty simple lyrics. "Row, row, row your boat" may be a model of Zen equanimity to some with a Matrix-like philosophical underpinning, but, really, it's about rowing your boat downstream. Over and over and over again.

This is not to say that simple lyrics are bad. Just that they've been the norm thus far in my infant/toddler/preschooler parental music experience.

So it takes some adjustment on my part to listen to music obviously geared toward older kids. Lyrically, the new CD from Eric Herman and the Invisible Band, Monkey Business, has some moments of inspired weirdness, which I mean as high praise. For example, the song "The Monkeys" tells the familiar story (to thirty-somethings and forty-somethings, perhaps) of four monkeys named "Mick and Dave and Mike and Pete" who sang in a band, and were accused of not even playing their instruments. The song concludes with lyrics such as "I'm in love... I'm a banana eater" and "Take the last vine to Clarkville." Another song, "Don't Bother Any Butterflies," works in a nice Beatles reference in an appropriate place. So lyrically the album works in enough sly references and humor to amuse both the children and the adults.

I think this CD works best (for adults at least) when Herman is telling a simple story or just singing -- "In the Box," the uptempo song that starts the CD is a fun song about cleaning up. The two slow songs at CD's end -- "The Hero of Your Dreams" and "Rest Easy Now" -- are sweet, slower songs appropriate for CD's end. Less successful for me were storytelling songs in which Herman assumes the voice of pirates or a robot. I can see six- and seven-year-olds really enjoying those songs, especially in concert or on a video, but I think their parents (or, at least, this one) won't enjoy them nearly as much on this CD.

Kids age 5 through 8 would probably enjoy this CD the most. You can buy the CD through online stores such as Amazon or CDBaby, or through Herman's website.