Years ago you knew what to expect from kids' music - singers you'd never heard of with squeaky "drink-your-milk" voices singing happy folk songs, musical nursery rhymes or sing-along history lessons.
Parents bought them thinking their kids would listen to them occasionally and they'd be able to ignore them.That assumption was generally proven wrong when that too-sweet-voiced singer warbled the inane "Henry the Happy Choo-Choo Train" for the 40th time in one night and the parent began to fantasize grinding the happy chug-a-lugger into tiny vinyl bits.
In recent years, parents and rec-ord companies wised up.
Somebody deep-sixed "Henry the Happy Choo-Choo" and music artists with real names, faces and reputations began to record children's records.
Excluding the bearded-human-Smurf Raffi, parents can generally enjoy music meant for their children.
One of the best surprises in children's records is "Songs for Little Pickers" by legendary guitarist Doc Watson.
Watson's music has the same rapport with people of any age, and all he has to do to make a good children's album is put together the historical and whimsical songs he occasionally sings into one album. Here are songs the kids can sing, stories they can be interested in and picking that knows no peer. Watson warbling "Froggy Went a-Courtin' " is a joy at any age, giving Watson fans without kids a good reason to pick up a copy.
When it comes to titles and covers Floyd Domino has the situation licked.
Domino, formerly of Asleep at the Wheel and now a popular session player, first got into the children's-album market with "Baby Road," a collection of soothing Beatles tunes played by a piano-based acoustic band. The cover as much as anything struck a chord with parents - four diaper-clad toddlers walking across the road in a mock tribute to the Bea-tles' "Abbey Road." He followed with "The White Album" (the cover showed a white diaper on a white background) - more Beatle tunes, but half-vocal and half-instrumental, aimed at slightly older kids.
Domino's latest edition is called "The Four Tots" and is (you guessed it) a collection of Motown classics recorded for the pre-school set. Hearing vocalists Maryann Price (formerly of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks) and Chris O'Connell (formerly of Asleep at the Wheel) croon Motown tunes like "Baby Love" gives them a whole new meaning.