Late 1960′s hippies (mostly in their early-to-late sixties) will enjoy their grandchildren’s new Randy Kaplan CD, The Kids Are All Id. The first song¸ “My Little Laugh,” immediately brings Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” to mind, a fond reminder of a long-gone time and a fun lesson about being responsible for our own feelings.
Randy Kaplan is not Arlo Guthrie, and doesn’t try to be. Folksy (“The Derby Ram”) and bluesy ( “Dream Hat”) songs are sung, along with other influences, all performed with the sensibility of a Catskills comedian, if you can imagine that. Kaplan’s songs are stories, and he includes charming narrative with which kids can identify. Employing a variety of voices and clever lyrics, he thoroughly entertains throughout the CD’s 17 songs.
The Kids Are All Id (the title track could be the anthem of frustrated parents everywhere) includes songs inspired by books by Ezra Jack Keats. With a few minor lyric changes, it also contains the Gershwins’ “I Got Plenty of Nothing,” Dave Van Ronk’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here” (bringing back Greenwich Village memories), Harold Rome’s “The Money Song,” and one of my favorites—Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” George Washington’s favorite song, “The Derby Ram,” has undergone some modernization to appeal to twenty-first-century kids. Whether or not Kaplan has been influenced by “Weird Al” Yankovic, his “The Kid Is All Id” sounds like it could have been ripped from Yankovic’s songbook (this is high praise).
Known for his cover of the Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which is a rambling story with a rock song thrown in to shake it up, Kaplan captivates with his not-quite-perfect voice and somewhat-off-center sense of humor. Like so many recent CDs aimed at children (Justin Roberts – Jungle Gym, Starfish - Enter Sandbox , Recess Monkey - The Final Funktier and The Okee Dokee Brothers – Take It Outside), The Kids Are All Id hits the mark with a selection of songs that won’t drive parents to distraction. You won’t hear Barney singing them, but that’s a good thing.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Kids Are All Id? Yes, it’s funky enough and just far enough out there that I can enjoy it without disturbing the kids with whom I’m supposed to share it.