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    Review: First Time for Everything - John Carlin

    FirstTimeForEverything.jpgOK, let's get the cover out of the way. Yes, it's bizarre. No, I can't explain it. And, yes, the album inside is better.

    Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get to the album itself. First Time for Everything is the debut kids' CD from the New York-based musician John Carlin. Carlin, like many kids' artists, had a career as a musician for adults, then started teaching music classes for kids. And, like many of those artists, his debut album is a very DIY affair, with Carlin playing every instrument. What distinguishes Everything from many other DIY albums are the flourishes of musical diversity within.

    The album starts off with the guitar-pop of "Eliza" and "Run Around," the latter song about how good it feels just to, well, run around. "Bein' a Dog" borrows some of melodic riff from "Time Warp, while the title track is a sauntering number featuring loose raspy vocals from Carlin. While I liked the original cuts, perhaps the nicest touches are the reworkings of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (featuring a musical interlude with acoustic guitar that's considerably different from, but very complimentary to, the original melody) and "This Little Light of Mine," which adds a small taste of a New Orleans brass band. The downside to the disk is that the production sometimes muddies the vocals (especially on Carlin's originals), making it difficult to understand them. It's something that certainly can be fixed on the next go-round.

    I'm gonna peg the 35-minute album as best for kids ages 3 through 7. You can hear clips of the songs here.

    By no means is First Time for Everything reinventing the kids' album. It's just an album with some nice new pop tunes with kid-appropriate lyrics and some old tunes presented with enough dash to make listening to the familiar melodies fresh. But if that's enough for you (and it's certainly enough for a lot of people), you could certainly do much worse. Recommended.

    Reader Comments (3)

    He's got a very snazzy website, which I saw the other day after the adoption day song talk. I like his voice and it sounds from the clips like he's made a sweet record.

    It's interesting thinking about folks who are making records and playing out. Some people are really loved for their live shows and really have a connection to their audiences. It looks on his site like he's got that. Some people are really recording artists and don't play out much. Some people really have both down. I wonder if everyone really HAS to do both.
    November 15, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdeb in sf
    I'm just speaking for myself, of course, but I really feel like I have to do both, because I couldn't make a living yet just from CD sales alone. Well, by that I mean CDs sold aside from live shows. I do pretty well from CD sales altogether, but a big chunk of those are bought at shows.

    As it is, I sell waaaay more CDs at a live show, per the people who are there, than through my website (or CDBaby or Amazon, etc.), per the people who visit there. It's not even remotely close in that respect. And I'm sure that's the case for just about everybody else who performs. Or maybe it's not?? I don't know... but it's sure that way for me. I think it's tough to just sell music without some kind of other means of directly presenting it to people - which could mean steady television and/or radio airplay. I'm sure that's why Laurie Berkner has sold 300,000+ copies of her CD/DVD. I don't think she tours much anymore, but she doesn't need to when her music is on TV all the time.

    I would think the old standby about releasing a record and then touring to support it is still true for most people, though. And also, someone on CDBaby said that she not only uses concerts to sell CDs, but also uses CDs to sell concerts. I realized that's true for me, too.

    I suppose if I wasn't spending so much time focused on booking and performing shows, then that same time could be put into promoting CD sales through other means, but of course it would be tough to have the resources to do that without any gigs.

    Anyway, good question, deb. That's my answer, but I'd love to hear what other people would say.

    November 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEric Herman
    Oh yeah, and I really liked John's album, too. Some great stuff there. :o)
    November 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEric Herman

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