Music Reviews: The Verve Pipe And Caspar Babypants With the upheaval in the music industry, it's no surprise that artists like The Verve Pipe and Caspar Babypants (also known as Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America) have gone from playing for adults to recording albums for kids. Reviewer Stefan Shepherd tips us off to a couple of albums worth spinning, even if the artists' original pop-music heyday has passed.
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'90s Alt-Rockers Make Music For Your Kids

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'90s Alt-Rockers Make Music For Your Kids

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Music Reviews

'90s Alt-Rockers Make Music For Your Kids

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Jewel, Barenaked Ladies, The Roots, there's been a crowd of mainstream musicians recording songs lately for kids. Well, our kids' music reviewer, Stefan Shepherd, tips us off to two recent albums that are worth a listen, even if you don't remember or didn't like the artists in their heyday.

STEFAN SHEPHERD: Like many folks of a certain age, I have fond memories of the alternative rock of the mid-'90s, the guitars, the earnest lyrics, the angst. Remember this?

(Soundbite of song, "The Freshmen")

THE VERVE PIPE (Rock Band): (Singing) For the life of me, I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins. We were merely freshmen.

SHEPHERD: That was "The Freshmen" from The Verve Pipe, by far the biggest hit in their career. Now they've recorded a kids music album. Cynics might think these artists are just cashing in on an untapped market. But even if the cynics are right, it doesn't mean these artists aren't recording some fun music for families.

(Soundbite of song, "Wake Up")

THE VERVE PIPE: (Singing) Wake up, wake up, wake up. It's fun to get up early in the morning. Early in the morning.

SHEPHERD: This is the lead-off track from the band's new release, "A Family Album." While "The Freshmen" might have been targeted at kids in their first year of college, this new song is targeted at kids in their first year of preschool.

(Soundbite of song, "Wake Up")

THE VERVE PIPE: (Singing) Put on some music to get in the mood. Your mama made you breakfast, got to eat your food. Quick, brush your teeth and pat down your hair. It's a great, big world just waiting out there. So wake up, wake up.

SHEPHERD: If you're not a parent, you might take a pass on this. But if you are, the mix of pop hooks, sweetness and giddy humor is very easy to enjoy with your kid. Songs like "Suppertime!" will bring a smile to even the grumpiest family member, regardless of age.

(Soundbite of song, "Suppertime!")

THE VERVE PIPE: (Singing) Why do they call it a hamburger? There's no ham in it. Why do they call it a sandwich? There's no sand in it. Why do they call it a hot dog? There's no dog in it. Or is there? 'Cause I don't even care 'cause I'm still having it. You say spaghetti and I say pasghetti. It really doesn't matter...

SHEPHERD: At the same time The Verve Pipe is releasing its album, another mid-'90s rocker is giving the genre a shot.

(Soundbite of song, "Lump")

THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Rock Band): (Singing) She's lump. She's lump. She's in my head. She's lump. She's lump. She's lump. She might be dead.

SHEPHERD: Ah, "Lump," the breakout hit from The Presidents of the United States of America. Now Presidents' co-founder Chris Ballew is also recording family music under the name Caspar Babypants.

His new album "More Please!" is his second for kids this year. Presidents fans will recognize the goofy sense of humor, but may be surprised at how clean and friendly the music is.

(Soundbite of song, "More Please!")

Mr. CASPAR BABYPANTS (Musician): (Singing) Where is my dog when he's gone? He's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone. When he gets back to our cozy little shack, it's doggy where you been so long. One time he came home with diamonds. One time he came home with fleas. Next time he comes back, I wish he'd bring a stack of hot, blueberry pancakes for me.

SHEPHERD: "More Please!" combines reworked folk songs with originals. The freshness of the songs make this album stand up to repeated listenings with tunes like "Sittin' on this Rock," a tiny but beautiful pop song of parental love. Both these albums are lots of fun, even if you could never tell your Stone Temple Pilots apart from your Soundgarden.

(Soundbite of song, "Sittin' on this Rock")

Mr. BABYPANTS: (Singing) You've been sittin' on this rock for a year now.

SIEGEL: That's kids music aficionado Stefan Shepherd, who reviewed "A Family Album" by The Verve Pipe and "More Please!" by Caspar Babypants. You can hear more at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Sittin' on this Rock")

Mr. BABYPANTS: (Singing) Yes, yes, they love you like you're the only one, because it's true.

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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