Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices

Burl Ives

Disneyland / Walt Disney Records, 1964

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/12/1998

To people like myself, the late Burl Ives is best remembered as the narrator of the Christmas television special Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, while to people of my parents' generation (or even to those who spent their childhood in the '60s), Ives was a very recognizable voice. His rich voice could almost transform any song into something magical; unfortunately, by the time Ives died a few years ago, his influence on the music industry was all but forgotten.

Walt Disney Records has started to bring back some of its glorious past by creating The Archive Collection, re-releasing some albums which not only have never been released on CD, but have not seen the light of day for around 30 years. Ives is the subject of the first disc in this project (two discs of which can only be purchased through Disney's website), Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices. Ives's roly-poly, cheerful image almost seems larger than life, and it made me very interested in checking this disc out.

Ives selected a few songs from the soundtrack of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mary Poppins, and on these his vocals fit the mood very well. Even the chiming in of a children's chorus on "A Spoonful Of Sugar" doesn't distract from the effectiveness of the song - if only I could say that about all the tracks on this album (which clocks in at under a half-hour).

Some songs are surprisingly addictive, though true rock-and-rollers would be embarrassed to admit they liked them. Oh, c'mon, go ahead and sing songs like "Mairzy Doats," "Lavender Blue" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" out loud - in one sense, I was able to relive the memories I had of my copy of the Mary Poppins soundtrack I had when I was a kid. (I don't remember what happened to that album - I either left it in the sun to turn into vinyl soup or I dropped it on the floor.)

But as much as I like Ives and think his voice could turn any song into gold, there's evidence to prove that this is not the case, ruining yet another childhood ideal. "Funniculi Funnicula" doesn't have the greatest vibe to it - even the words sound like they're off a bit - and the song is a disappointment. On other songs like "Swinging On A Star," I actually resented the addition of the children's chorus - I wanted to hear Ives sing this one through. Still others, like "Polly Wolly Doodle," fall flat.

There is, of course, a problem with the reviewer - namely, that I'm 27 years old, and think singing "Polly Wolly Doodle" at this age is polly-wolly-dumb. Ah, but this is where children come into play. My daughter just turned two, and once she's grasped a little more of language skills (and not the word that Daddy let slip last weekend), she will probably discover more joy in this album than I will ever be able to find at my age.

Another problem on my end is that I wasn't alive in 1964 when this record came out. Something tells me that someone who was in the ages of wonder (that is, under 10) in the mid-'60s will experience a sense of deja vu with Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices, even if they don't totally flash back to their childhood.

So, the end verdict on this one is a hung jury. It's incredibly hard for an adult - even someone like me who considers himself a "grown, bent kid" - to try and recapture the magic of childhood, even with an album like Chim Chim Cher-ee And Other Children's Choices. But this is where today's generation of kids will come in, and make this limited edition the stuff that memories are made of. And in the end, isn't anything Disney does really all about children?

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Disneyland / Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.