I’m not sure The Rocking Horse Players and Orchestra’s rendition of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf necessitates a slot in the collection, yet, there it rests, unplayed, and unloved. Perhaps it should have been passed up (by me at some random secondhand store of yesteryear) so that some modern-day-junior-vinyl-collector could begin his or her little record collection of favorite children stories. I mean, this isn’t a bad place to start given that it also contains The Shoemaker and the Elves, The Golden Goose, and Ozzie the Ostrich, but for someone in their mid-thirties, the appetite for Peter and his friend is all but blown away.
From the big, barren beyond to the boisterous, bellowings of Burl Ives. Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck, nonetheless… (manufactured by underpaid and sleep deprived enthusiasts in Southern California… The Prudent Groove), to a room scattered with eager young minds with nothing more than the hopeful wonderment of an undeveloped mind, an acoustic guitar, and the classic Burl Ives goatee.
Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck raises more questions than the amount of entertainment it provides, but I doubt my kind is the target demographic. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man, and not just because my father sported the same goatee one year for Christmas. For me, Burl’s warming tone is reserved for the winter months, but now with this new addition, the listening radius may be expanded to those rare times when I feel compelled to relive the first grade.
This is not music for mechanical pencil stealing 2nd graders, chocolate milk hoarding 4th graders, or even socially perturbed freshmen. This is Music for Kindergarten and Nursery School. I think anyone half conscious with at least one eye that works can see by the gleeful elephant blowing flowers through a tuba on the cover. No self-respecting 6th grader is going to look at this album and be all like, “Man, I’ve GOT to listen to this!”
Another glaring indicator that this two record set is aimed at the youngins is the music contained within. With songs like, Good-bye Old Paint, Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?, and my personal favorite, Donkey Riding, it becomes apparent rather quickly the target demographic Allyn and Bacon, Inc. and Alpha Records were aiming for.
For further definition as to the aspirations set forth by this merry little compilation of outdated and completely irrelevant music, the producers at the RCA Custom Record Division offer this, rather wholesome, little mission statement. (See photo. I’m NOT retyping all of this up. You can just as easily click the image and read for yourself… Please excuse my misguided belligerence. I’ve been off coffee for four days now. Have a nice day.)
The word “miracle” seldom permeates from my vocabulary. I need not describe it, as I assume you understand the monumental weight of its meaning. So when I stumbled upon a 78 that describes a record using the word “miracle,” I instantly expected 1) to be granted the ability to fly, 2) for my student loans to disappear, or 3) some other supernormal impossibility. What I reluctantly found, however, was a misguided marketing ploy by Tops for Tots Records.
Tops for Tots Records was a “kiddie record” series released by Tops Records (formed in 1947, bankrupt and sold to Pickwick Records in 1963). This short lived label promoted “unbreakable kiddie records” in the 7” format, but arrogantly threw around the word “miracle” as if it were handing out coupons for free belly dancing lessons. This “miracle” allows the contents of a 10” 78rpm record to exist as a 7” 78rpm record. That’s it. Much like this post, the expectation greatly exceeds the result.
This copy was owned by a woman named Linda, who was either very young, or never got around to learning the fundamentals of writing letters. I hope Linda enjoyed Around the World on a Bubble and Little Patriot Songs, and I fancy the notion that her little bubble wasn’t popped upon the harsh realization that this record in fact did not contain a miracle.