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Simon Mayor & Hilary James - Children's Favourites

Simon Mayor & Hilary James
Children's Favourites
Acoustics CDACS054

In the course of having a son and four grandchildren I've heard plenty of 'children's' albums. With very few exceptions I've been unwilling to inflict them on my kids. It wasn't the songs, I had no quarrel with the various White Ducks, and Little Red Engines, they were okay, it was the arrangements that put me off. Some were nauseatingly twee carrying enough sugar to kick-start diabetes. Others had songs rendered by shrill sopranos with cut-glass accents and patronising tones fit to put the kid's newly-cut teeth on edge.

Luckily for all concerned Simon Mayor and Hilary James had their own ideas on music for children and devoted a large part of their career towards getting their stuff into circulation via schools and broadcasting work. Their 'Musical Mystery Tour' shows not only brought out fresh songs but they introduced children to the sight and sound of real people playing real instruments. I know from my own bit of schools work how some younger children were amazed to see someone simply stand up and sing directly to them. I can well imagine the effect upon children presented with the dazzling virtuosity of this pair.

This album is a gathering of material from their Musical Mystery Tour CDs, with the addition of a track or two from Simon's mandolin albums. It's not all songs; there are dialogue sketches such as 'Simon's Doorbell' and 'King Canute at Cleethorpes', and as you would expect, some instrumental tracks. The opener, 'Turkish Toetapper' sets the standard, and the last track, a piece of Vivaldi, is just sublime. Not your average 'children's material' I grant you, but all the better for that in my opinion. The next stop for my copy of 'Children's Favourites' is down to my niece's house where Maisie and Kate will give it their full approval I'm sure.

Roy Harris.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.