Tuesday 18 June 2013

Megson "When I Was A Lad..." album review.

Both Lee and I adore music and enjoy a wide range of different genres, as such we hope to pass on our passion for music to Bug.  We think it is important to expose Bug to different experiences and in relation to music we think it is important that he is introduced to a wide variety of music; as such we listen to an array of different music with Bug, spanning a wide range of genres. 

Even though I think it is important that Bug listens to nursery rhymes and songs and songs for children and have embraced children’s tunes, children’s television themes and classic children songs for his sake and enjoyment I do find the cheery, bubbly songs annoy me and for the sake of my own sanity I often revert to my own music. 

Wanting Bug to listen to children’s songs as I do think they are beneficial to him I am always on the hunt to find music for children that he will enjoy that will also not drive me crazy.  When I was recently offered the chance to review an album of children’s songs I was keen to give it a listen to see if it would be the answer to my quest for children’s songs that are enjoyable for Bug and importantly different to the standard chirpy children’s songs that annoy me.

Arriving in a shiny silver parcel I was excited about listening to the CD were sent, Megson “When I Was A Lad...”.  Megson are husband and wife duo Stu and Debbie Hanna who after forming 8 years ago took a break in 2011 to welcome their little baby girl Lola Wren into the world.  Drawing heavily on their Teesside heritage Megson create a unique brand of folk music that has seen them nominated 3 times in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and being double winners of the 2011 Spiral Earth Awards. 

Combining their new roles as parents with their passion for music “When I Was A Lad...” was born.  “When I was A Lad...” is an album for children containing a collection of original and traditional children’s folk songs.  The album consists of 11 songs and in the album blurb there is a brief description/history of each song along with the lyrics – 

1.  Bee-o (Traditional)
A Yorkshier lullaby, where “go to bee’o” means “go to sleep”

2.  All The Shops Have Fallen Down (Hanna/Hanna)
This started life as an educational song – it was meant to list all the different shops on the high street and what could be bought there. But songs should reflect the times they are written in.

3.  Jenny Jenkins (Traditional)
One of our favourite song books is 104 FOLK SONGS (as recorded on folkways records) compiled by Moses Asch, 1964.  The copy we have was rescued from a house clearance by Debs’s dad and has become well worn over the years. It has given us some great songs including this, Jenny Jenkins, a courtship song from America.

4.  Oats & Beans & Barley-o (Traditional)
A play song collected by a Miss Burne of Shropshire and published in a lovely illustrated book from 1894 entitled “Children’s Singing Games”.  The game involves the children standing in a ring whilst taking turns to act out the actions.

5.  The Riddle Song (Traditional)
We found this popular song in Sharp & Karpeles 80 English Folk Songs.  But The earliest version of this was published around 1430 under the title of ” I have a yong suster” in the Sloane Manuscript 2593, a valuable manuscript of 15th century carols and lyrics currently held in the British Library.

6.  Me Fathers Farm (Traditional)
Collected from Mr Thorton of the valley of Lothersdale, Yorkshire by Alison McMorland and presented in her fantastic collection of songs, rhymes and games for children entitled “The Funny Family” (Ward Lock Educational).

7.  Dance To Your Daddy (based on the original by W. Watson)
Popularised by TV adverts and theme tunes, the earliest published version of this (entitled Dance To Thy Daddy) was attributed to a W.Watson in W & T Fordye’s Newcastle Songster of 1840.

8.  Baby And The Band (Hanna/Hanna)
We have never seen a baby play a banjo & wouldn’t advise trying it due to the highly tense strings!

9.  Leatherwing Bat (Traditional)
Also known as The Bird’s Courting Song or The Hawk & The Crow, this ballads tells the stories of various birds in their courting expeditions and how they have succeeded and failed.

10.  A Frog He Would A Woo-ing Go (Traditional)
Based on the 1883 version published by Randolph Caldecott – we would love to know what a frog would look like wearing an Opera Hat!  It’s just a shame about the tragic end.

11.  Five Little Ducks (Traditional)
What can we say!  We’re just glad they all made it home.
Song information taken from the album blurb.

With being all too familiar with listening to music digitally nowadays it felt good to have an album physically in my hands and being able to appreciate the beauty of the album’s booklet filled with song lyrics and interesting facts about the songs. 

As a fan of folk music I was excited about listening to the album and hope that it would be enjoyable for both Bug and I.  Listening to the album “When I Was A Lad...” I was instantly impressed.  Every song is beautifully sung and the soft, sweetly sung children inspired songs are a welcome relief to average children’s songs that are often irritating and sung in a high-pitched manner.  The songs are enchanting and the album flows beautifully from start to finish, all the songs blend beautifully together with them amazingly being in sync with each other yet unique all at the same time.  The vocals are amazing and their voices blend wonderfully together and with the instruments.  It is refreshing to hear real instruments which enhance the lyrics and voices beautifully. 

I think it is great that the album consists of traditional and original songs; it is great to be able to sing along to songs I already know and love as well as being able to hear new songs all in one CD.  Bug and I have loved listening to this album at home and in the car and I have found I cannot resist singing along to the songs. 

Bug loves the album and as soon as the songs start he is dancing, giggling, clapping and singing along to the songs.  His favourite song on the album is “Five little ducks” which is guaranteed to get him ‘quacking’ away in a fit of giddy excitement.  We both love “Baby and the Band” which is a fun original song that Bug loves dancing to.  I also have a soft spot for “Bee-o” and “Dance to your Daddy” which are both lovely songs that are beautifully sung.

This beautiful album that is melodic and harmonic is perfect for both young and old folk.  The combination of clever lyrics that are often witty, catchy rhythms, beautiful harmonies and real instruments create songs that are innocently enchanting.  This charming album has the unique ability to be relaxing and perfect for a calming, soothing cuddle or snooze for little ones as well as being an energetic, lively soundtrack for little ones to sing and dance to and burn off excess energy.

“When I Was A Lad...” can be bought from the Megson website for £10 and I whole-heartily believe it is worth every penny for an album that is filled with children appropriate songs which won’t drive parents barmy, that both little ones and parents will love.

Megson are touring this summer at various locations and family folk shows.  It is a shame that they are not touring anywhere near us as I would love to take Bug along so that he could dance along to the songs live.

Thanks to Megson I now have an album of children’s songs to listen to with Bug that I love just as much as he does (perhaps even slightly more as I have found myself listening to it in the car even when he is now with me)…….I just hope that Megson bring out another album soon of traditional and original children’s songs for Bug and I to enjoy and love as this album has been captivated our hearts and delighted our ears.

More information about Megson.

*  We were kindly sent this album to review for free, despite this I have written an honest review that contains my own words and opinions unless stated otherwise *

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