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Rastamouse: The Album: Makin' a Bad Ting Good

Album Notes

Hoping to repeat the success of chart-toppers Teletubbies and Bob the Builder, crime-fighting dreadlocked rodent Rastamouse is the latest Children's BBC character to make the leap from kids' TV to pop stardom with his debut LP, The Album (Makin' a Bad Ting Good). Unlike his predecessors, the star of the CBeebies stop-motion animation series has transcended his intended six-and-under audience, largely thanks to his Rastafarian style, Jamaican patois, and some rather nonsensical tabloid reports alluding to unfounded drug references and stereotypes, which might explain why its 20 tracks are just as likely to be enjoyed by parents as they are their offspring. Indeed, take away the comical voices and preschool lyrics and much of Rastamouse & da Easy Crew's offerings could be mistaken for a genuinely authentic reggae album, due to its affectionate pastiches of lovers rock, dub, and 2 Tone, as on the laid-back rootsy instrumental "Dub Melodica," the Kingston Town vibes of "Island Reggae," and soulful ska-pop of "Grove Town." However, despite his recent appearance at Glastonbury and post-ironic fan base, the producers of the program, based on Genevieve Webster and Michael De Souza's books, haven't forgotten who they originally created the Reggie Yates-voiced character for. "Everyone's a Winner" and "Life Is Sweet" are uplifting singalongs that convey the show's ethos of teaching right from wrong, "Bandulu's Pie" is a groove-laden instructional on how to bake a pie, while "Give It Up for da Easy Crew" is an extended version of the funky theme tune that will delight those disappointed when the normal 36-second intro comes to an end. The several pieces without the vocals of Rastamouse, Scratchy, and Zoomer may lead to some children's attention wandering, but overall, The Album (Makin' a Bad Ting Good) is a kids' album that uniquely doesn't patronize its audience, contains musicianship just as impressive many "grown-up" affairs, and is less likely to elicit groans from any member of the family once it's reached its inevitable 500th play. ~ Jon O'Brien


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