Those of us who review kids music talk about the importance of getting kids to see live music. For all the work I put in reviewing albums from across the country, the connection with kids isn't made through the CD player in the minivan or the family iDevice, but through the shared musical experience of a concert.
Maybe it's because the live experience is so transformative that explains why there are so few live albums in the kindie genre and those that do exist, either on album or on DVD, don't fully capture the energy and joy from seeing a live act.
I can't say that Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's live album, the just-released Live at the Orange Peel, is the album that totally breaks free of those constraints. But it is a lively survey of the undisputed king of kid-hop's first three albums. Featuring ten songs evenly split among his first three albums (including some tracks like "Time Flies" that only appear on some versions of the albums), Skidoo and his band of co-conspirators show in 40 minutes why he's a popular act with family audience. Returning to Asheville, North Carolina, where he got his start, his family, including his daughter Saki (A.K.A. MC Fireworks), and Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band provide the full musical experience that help set Skidoo apart from other kid-hop acts ("Magic Beans" sounds particularly good). The songs aren't massively different in production on stage than on record, but hearing Skidoo (and Saki and the others) rap live does give it a little different feel.
I would rather see Secret Agent 23 Skidoo live with my family than listen to Live at the Orange Peel. But that's no knock on the new album - more so than many live kindie records, this one feels like it's its own creature rather than a pale document. Skidoo fans will be pleased; newcomers could do worse for an introduction. Definitely recommended.