Pure Imagination

by: Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein, the musical archivist turned cabaret entertainer, delivers the kind of children's album that might have been expected of him with Pure Imagination, scouring through piles of sheet music to come up with songs dating from the 1930s to the 1980s, mostly taken from stage and movie musicals. Animals and insects make frequent appearances, of course, including teddy bears, a peaceful bull, "Not Much of a Dog," ugly bugs, and "The Jitterbug" (a song written for but cut from The Wizard of Oz), not to mention some unusual humans including "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady" and "The Mole People." The latter song is another one nearly lost in the archives, written "for exploitation" for the 1956 low-budget sci-fi flick The Mole People, which is to say that it wasn't really used in the film, but intended to help promote it. If it did, then it misled audiences to expect a comedy. Typically, Feinstein enlists the aging songwriters Ray Evans and Jay Livingston to contribute to the chorus, which goes, "Chomp-a-diddy." That's a refrain children will enjoy singing along to, and there are other places on the disc that invite participation. But this is a varied collection also including some songs that might be better appreciated by parents. ~ William Ruhlmann

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