For Our Children

Various Artists

Walt Disney Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Peter Piatkowski

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/10/2021

Charity albums can be tricky to judge because they usually are made for a good cause. The Disney Records’ 1991 compilation For Our Children raised money for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a noble cause. Luckily, the collection of children’s songs performed by big stars is very good with some good-to-great songs. More than anything, For Our Children is a lovely, sometimes-poignant, sometimes-fun album that is a great way to introduce little ones to some fantastic performers.

Because it was released in 1991, there may be some datedness to the album. Though enduring pop legends like Bob Dylan, Sting, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, and Heart appear, we also see music from then-trendy artists like Paula Abdul and Debbie Gibson. The songs are uniformly tasteful and elegant – few of the songs are exciting or innovating – but there’s lots of good will on this record, given how important the cause is.

The record opens with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers’ “Give A Little Love” and it’s an appropriate song to introduce the album. Marley’s brand of pop-friendly reggae music is appealing to kids and the Diane Warren-penned tune sets the friendly, generally upbeat tone of the album. Bob Dylan’s strange, unique voice is a perfect match for a folksy rendition of the kids standard “This Old Man.” And Paul McCartney recycles his genial rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For Our Children shines brightest when the songs aim to tickle listeners’ hearts. Bette Midler offers her humorous “Blueberry Pie” (which was originally featured on the Grammy-winning kids record In Harmony, a Sesame Street album) and Little Richard’s “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a saucy, campy take that sports some great piano work (though is marred somewhat by the date, New Jack Swing-lite production – something that nearly destroys Elton John’s instrumental contribution “The Pacifier”)

Rock gods Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Harry Nilsson, and Brian Wilson provide For Our Children with some of the most engaging moments on the album. Springsteen covers “Chicken Lips & Lizard Hips” and does a fun job with the song’s childishly silly lyrics; Sting does a spirited take on the Geordie folk song, “Cushie Butterfield”; Harry Nilsson contributes with his self-penned classic “Blanket For A Sail;” and Wilson livens up the record with his joyful and endearing “Country Feelings.”

Though the album is best when the tempo is lively, there are a few ballads that create some heartfelt moments, too: Paula Abdul surprises with a good vocal performance on the lullaby “Goodnight, My Love,” while Pat Benatar reigns in her gigantic voice for the lovely, simple, “Tell Me Why.” And Barbra Streisand’s reverent and hushed “A Child Is Born” is moving. And though not a pop star, Meryl Streep stands tall with her more accomplished colleagues with an ethereal “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” which shows off the actress’s Joni Mitchell-esque vocals.

The album’s greatest moment, though, belongs to Carole King’s elegiac “Child Of Mine.” Even if the song was written in 1970, the wise, aching lyrics speak to the record and its whole reason for existing. The song is written from the perspective of a parent who is taking stock of raising a child – she’s talking to her kid and paying tribute to motherhood. The line, “The times you were born in may not have been the best” are especially heart breaking, given that we’re listening to an album dedicated to the scourge of AIDS.

For Our Children is a stirring album that aims to raise awareness and money for a devastating disease. But even removed from that context, the album is a great listen.There are some quality tracks, lovely, heart-warming, and soulful moments and compassionate performances that work together to make a wonderful album.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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