TMBG: Learning Can Be Fun

I’ve always appreciated how They Might Be Giants respect their fanbase and labor hard to provide high value for the entertainment dollar.  While their music has always had strong appeal to a younger demographic, in recent years They Might Be Giants have released albums aimed squarely at the school-age crowd, such as Here Comes the ABCs, (released as 25 tracks on CD, 39 on DVD) which has gotten a lot of airplay around our house.  Note the clever lyric and accompanying animation sequence for “Alphabet Lost and Found:

“Alphabet Lost and Found”      They Might Be Giants     2005

There is a good reason why this YouTube clip was uploaded under the name of “DisneyMusic” — so says Wikipedia:

“While [the album] was produced and released by Walt Disney Records, the band was reportedly given complete creative control over the project, which at the time was very unusual for Walt Disney Records, which had until then followed a strict artist control policy.  As a result, the DVD features a variety of puppetry, animation and live action supplied by personal friends of the group, including A.J. Schnack, who directed the TMBG documentary Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns).  For guest vocals on a few tracks, they turned to family:  John Flansburgh’s wife Robin Goldwasser, and John Linnell’s son, Henry.  The music videos that appear on the DVD were also aired (in part or whole) on the Disney Channel’s children’s programming block, Playhouse Disney.”

Sounds like Alvino Rey‘s “Sono-Vox” being employed in the phased backing vocals — or some simulation thereof, yes?

TMBG-aDivya Srinivasan is the artistic hand behind the animation on “Alphabet Lost and Found” — check out the rest of her work at her website, which includes an animation reel and illustration slide show.

Here Come the ABCs would be the successor to No!, their first formal children’s album.TMBG-bTMBG Flexi-Disc Trivia

For their April 1992 edition, Reflex Magazine would release a “split 331/3 RPM flexidisc:  XTC b/w TMBG!  Side A features “Rip Van Reuben” – a home demo of an Andy Partridge composition – with They Might Be Giants’s “Moving to the Sun” on the flip side.


Ambrose Brazelton: Fab Four as Force for Fitness

In a noble attempt to leverage the Beatles’ massive popularity on behalf of making kids more physically fit all across America, Ambrose Brazelton – a lifelong educator and former Director of Health, Physical Education & Recreation for the Ohio public school system – went into a NYC recording studio in 1971 and (with help from hired musicians) transformed six Beatle hits into educational vehicles for teaching balance, body control, endurance, and coordination, among other skills. For instance, “ObLaDi, ObLaDa” – Paul McCartney’s attempt to emulate the “new” reggae sound of 1968 – in Brazleton’s hands, becomes a vessel for achieving “mastery of the gallop and slide to effect smooth transition to polka step”:

Ob La Di – Ambrose Brazelton

[Psst: Click on the triangle above so you can gallop & slide along with Ambrose Brazelton.]Ambrose Brazelton - And The Beatles Go On & On

The album (which I discovered in the combined record collection of my brother & his wife) includes detailed notes and photo illustrations for each of the physical activities associated with “Ticket to Ride”; “Eleanor Rigby”; “Ob-La-Di”; “Something”; “Got to Get You Into My Life”; and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Ambrose Brazelton received his B.S. Degree at the University of Akron in 1952, his Master’s Degree at Kent State University in 1960.  He was the recipient of the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Teacher Award in 1963.  He is a member of AAHPER, OAHPER, Midwest AHPER, Ohio State Education Association, National Education Association, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education & Recreation.  Brazelton (1924-2010) once traveled extensively throughout Ohio and the nation as a consultant lecturer and demonstrator.  He proved again and again his ability to make children enjoy and participate in physical education programs.

George Draws the Short Straw – Again

On the back cover, just below the list of song titles, it states “Music and lyrics, Lennon & McCartney” – even though George Harrison’s #1 Beatle single, “Something” is on the album!