Ukulele Ike Sings Again

Cliff Edwards

Disneyland / Walt Disney Records, 1956

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


How many of us grew up with the voice of Jiminy Cricket singing "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Pinnochio? There was always something soothing about that voice, no matter how old of a kid you are. I might not remember much about my childhood, but even at the age of 27, I find something therapeutic about hearing that song.

These same people might cringe when offered the chance to listen to an album with the title of Ukulele Ike Sings Again - I know I wasn't especially thrilled about it at first. Ah, but reading the liner notes to this disc (part of Disney's "The Archive Collection", and a disc that can only be purchased through them), I discovered that "Ukulele Ike" was in fact Cliff Edwards - better known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Oh, well, in that case...

As it turns out, this disc of Edwards singing 16 songs backed by the "Wonderland Jazz Band" is truly pleasurable to listen to, for the most part. It is incredibly short - in fact, too short, it seems - but Edwards knows how to take a song from his past and keep it fresh.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, keep in mind that this disc was released sometime in the 1950s originally (although I have not been able to find out which year it was released - I forgot to ask my friends at Disney that), meaning these songs are from the '20s, '30s and '40s. However, good music does know no time barriers, and Edwards often is able to deliver the goods.

The all-out rendition of "Singin' In The Rain," complete with Edwards providing scat vocals in the breaks, is a sign of the joy this album contains. Though some of these songs might not be familiar to younger listeners, the time barrier won't seem to matter when it comes to the delivery. From a gentle croon on "I'll See You In My Dreams" to a happily busy rendition of "Sunday" (two versions are on this disc, including an uncredited "single" version with the scat overdub), Edwards maintains a lot of the magic through his distinctive vocal style.

Weaknesses? Yes, there are a few - such as the way some of the tracks run into each other to create surprising medleys. I personally would have preferred to hear full versions of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye," "No No Nora" and "Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue" instead of them all mashed together. And although Edwards can sing almost anything, his slipping into an Irish brogue midway through "K-K-K-Katy" ends up to be a bit annoying, moreso than if he had delivered the whole song that way. Fortunately, this song quickly melds into "When You Wore A Tulip," the only time I'll give my blessing to the medley on this album.

But what about the ukulele, you may ask? Well, as it turns out, Edwards's work on the ukulele often seems to be buried in the mix, coming forward on songs like "Sunday" very well. And, much to my surprise, Edwards is a very good player - from what he's playing , it sounds like the ukulele is a more complicated instrument than I would have originally thought.

Whether you're a kid of 5 or 85, Ukulele Ike Sings Again is sure to provide some level of pleasure. It might bring back old memories or help you create new ones. And though Edwards's singing career might be all but forgotten to us young pups, albums like this are sure to remind us there was more to Edwards's life than an animated cricket.

For more information on this disc or any other in the "Archive Collection" or to order this volume, please visit Walt Disney's Web site.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 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.