Review: Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts - Sam Hinton

WhoeverShallHave.jpgOriginally released in 1961, Sam Hinton's Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts is a classic beloved by many families. In August, Smithsonian Folkways re-released the album (for the first time on CD) so that a new generation of families could hear these stories in songs.

If the only thing Sam Hinton did in his life was direct the Scripps Oceanographic Institution in southern California for about 20 years, that by itself would be a full life. The fact that he's also an accomplished musician (reportedly knowing 5,000 songs) and artist (doing the drawings for the reknowned Rise Up Singing collection) makes me feel, well, that perhaps I could perhaps do a little bit more on the side. Or in my full-time job.

Anyway, the 20 tracks showcase Hinton's clear voice -- he nimbly navigates fast songs like "Michael Finnegan" while giving character to somewhat more midtempo tunes like the gently bouncing "Mr. Rabbit" or sweet songs like "The Eagle's Lullaby." And his talent for vocal mimickry is adeptly shown on tracks such as "The Barnyard Song," on which he, yes, imitates many barnyard animals. (Given Hinton's "daytime" job, it's not surprising that many of songs deal with animals and the natural world.) Hinton accompanies himself on guitar; it's unobtrusive, but it's the lyrics and melody that are the stars here.

I think kids ages 2 through 7, along with their associated adults, will appreciate these stories in songs the most. You can hear samples of the tracks at the album's Folkways page. I also should note Folkways' typically excellent album package, which in this case features Hinton's excellent notes on the songs along with an introductory essay from Bess Lomax Hawes.

Whoeve Shall Have Some Good Peanuts is reminiscent of a Pete Seeger album, sharing a fine voice and a strong folksinging tradition. There is a looseness, however, to the interpretations that also reminds me of Woody Guthrie's kids' albums. If you have any affinity for the albums of those two artists, you will certainly enjoy this album. Recommended.