Itty-Bitty Review: Sesame Street Playground - Various Artists (Putumayo)

SesameStreetPlayground.jpgSesame Street Playground, the latest globetrotting collection of kids music from cultural omnivores Putumayo, solves the problem of "what region do we tackle next?" by moving on to children's television. Sesame Street is broadcast all around the world, of course, and this collection culls a sample set of songs from some of those local versions.

The downside of the collection is that unlike a lot of the Putumayo compilations, the overall quality of the songs isn't as compelling. Sesame Street has such a rich musical history here in the U.S. that it almost seems unfair to limit it to just Elmo's Song, "Sing," and a Chinese-language rendition of "Rubber Duckie." It's not that the songs are bad (I like the India show opening "Galli Galli Sim Sim" and "Ricas Frutas" from Mexico), just that it casts such a wide net that there isn't the cohesion your hear on the other, more sonically focused collections. On the other hand, the disk also includes a DVD with videos for five of the songs on the album. It's the visual that gives a lot of context to the songs. On video, the point of the songs is clear, even without the captions that are provided. (And Putumayo's liner notes are, as usual, very strong.)

The album will be of most interest to kids ages 3 through 6; you can listen to clips and watch all the videos here. I don't think Sesame Street Playground has quite the repeat playability a lot of their albums has. But a lot of the songs are enjoyable and the videos serve as an easy introduction to cultures (or, at least, muppets) from around the world. If your kids enjoy Sesame Street, they may find this album an interesting side trip.