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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tim Russ

Bugsters Tunes and Tales by Tim Russ and Friends

Review by Gary Hill

This is a bit of an usual review for me and for MSJ - being that it is a children's CD. We've never done one before, in fact, I've never done one before, but there's a first time for everything. Besides, my guess is that many MSJ readers have children - or even grand children and would like to find some music (especially ones like this one that have accompanying activities) to entertain them and even educate them. Add to that the fact that the artist responsible, Tim Russ is someone for whom I have a lot of respect, and it's easy to see why I chose to review this. The disc features Russ (known by most people as Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager) and a cast of other players (including fellow Trekkers Ethan Phillips (Neelix on Star Trek Voyager and Chase Masterson (Leeta on Star Trek Deep Space Nine)) create songs and stories that are sure to be a hit with your toddlers. The CD says that it is for children from preschool to second grade. For more information about this CD (you can buy it there or at Amazon) check out Tim Russ' website. With the holidays coming up, it might make an excellent stocking stuffer.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Caterpillar Conga
This bouncy jungle music is fun and should have every little one singing and dancing along. The booklet that comes with the CD says that this is useful for a game where children line up to form one long caterpillar. It gives more detailed instructions, but I think you get the idea. It sounds like a fun game for the little tykes.
Jump - Fly - Crawl
This is an old time jazzy number for your children to groove to as they learn all about how different bugs move. The booklet suggests that it becomes an activity for the children to pretend to be bugs "jump or hop like a cricket, flap wings like a bee, and crawl like an ant."
Look But Don't Touch
In this reggaeish little dittie, "children learn about respecting an insect's space." It explains that, "some bugs can bite, sting, make you sick, or even make you stink." It's definitely a valuable lesson taught in a fun way.
Arny Ants
Starting with military trumpet, this is a martial like marching song at first, then mixing that with a fun mellow groove. The booklet describes an activity where children form a line of "army ants" and move items from one place to another by handing them to each other in the line. According to the booklet this is a good activity for play or for picking up. It can also be used to move children from one place to another.
Itch & Scratch
An old time rock and roll type number, this has a definite boogie-woogie to it. There is a playful itching and scratching activity to go along with the song.
Camouflage:
This one teaches children how insects use camouflage to hide and hunt. Musically it's a nice folky melody with a twist of reggae.
Spider Life
Starting with a child asking, "is that a spider" over a percussive line, this is a funky fun groove. It also teaches children about the types of spiders and gives them several activities to do.
Insect Detective
Feeling like a cross between Inspector Gadget and the Pink Panther, this little number will have children playing along and answering the questions with the clues given. This is a lot of fun.
Firefly
This starts with a mellow ballad sung/spoken by a child. On the chorus she is joined by adult voices. This one is almost too cute for words and your children will certainly enjoy singing along on this pretty cut.
Caterpillar Conga (Instrumental)
This is an instrumental take on the opening track.
Spider Life (Instrumental)
As one might guess, this is an instrumental take on the earlier number.
Itch & Scratch (Instrumental)
This is an instrumental take on the opening track.
Arny Ants (Instrumental)
And we get yet one more instrumental rendition.
Firefly (Instrumental)
This is both the final instrumental reworking and the final "song" on the album.
Work It Out
This story, through the use of the voices of various insect characters, teaches children that sometimes working together for a common goal gets results where going at it alone won't.
The Mothmen
The other story on the disc, with the same characters from the previous tale shows kids that many times the things we fear out of hearsay are not actually anything we need to fear at all.
 
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