Review: Peggy's Pie Parlor - Ralph's World

PeggysPieParlor.jpgWhen I've contemplated how I would put together the inevitable Ralph's World musical -- what, you haven't? -- I've tended towarded organizing the songs somewhat chronologically. This leaves me with no other choice than to start with the bang-up song "Cavemen!," off Ralph Covert's fourth Ralph's World album, Peggy's Pie Parlor (2003). The song, a mock Broadway revue number, keeps me in stitches (what other kids' song would refer to Modigliani?), while the chorus, "Cavemen! We are Cavemen!," is pitched perfectly at the 1st graders out there.

The presence of a Broadway number on the CD isn't out-of-place, because more than any other Ralph's World album, Peggy's Pie Parlor is willing to reach way back into the 20th century for musical styles -- the vigorous polka of the title track, the zippity ragtime of Walt Kelly's manic "Go Go Pogo," the I-had-to-double-check-it-was-a-Covert-original "I Never See Maggie Alone," which could've easily been written 80 years ago. (Covert also does his best to make "Yon Yonson" sound appealing for its 2-minute run time, but runs out about halfway through.)

Having said that, my favorite tracks are the more modern-sounding tracks. "All I Wanna Do Is Play" is a sweet slice of Hammond organ-spiced garage rock, while the pop-rock leadoff track "The Mighty Worm," has a simple yet ear-wormy melody and chorus ("Everybody does what they do best / the best"). And "Tango Dancing Bear" concludes with a Dave Mathews Band-esque waltz coda.

Kids age 4 through 8 will appreciate the 37-minute album the most. You can hear samples here or at other online merchants.

I've come to consider Peggy's Pie Parlor as a transitional Ralph's World CD, moving from the least essential CD in his collection (Happy Lemons) to his two most recent and cohesive albums, where his songwriting for elementary school kids really took off, marrying a kid-centric perspective with great melodic hooks. Although Peggy's Pie Parlor doesn't quite reach the heights of the two later CDs, everybody should find at least a few songs they and their kids will enjoy. Recommended.