Hi Kids! [Drive]

Hi Kids! [Drive]

by Shari Lewis
     
 

For much of his career, Edgar Bergen had to face the frequent question of what a ventriloquist was doing on a radio show (where you couldn't actually see him throw his voice), and the same dilemma must have occurred to someone at Golden Records when they signed Shari Lewis to a contract in 1959. Of course, Lewis' appeal was a bit different than Bergen's -- Lewis had… See more details below

Overview

For much of his career, Edgar Bergen had to face the frequent question of what a ventriloquist was doing on a radio show (where you couldn't actually see him throw his voice), and the same dilemma must have occurred to someone at Golden Records when they signed Shari Lewis to a contract in 1959. Of course, Lewis' appeal was a bit different than Bergen's -- Lewis had become a popular fixture on children's television as a regular on Captain Kangaroo as well as hosting her own show, and as long as she could render the voices of her puppet pals Lamb Chop, Wing Ding, Charley Horse, and Hush Puppy, her younger fans weren't likely to be worried about the details. Lewis' first LP, Hi Kids!, was released in 1959 and is a stronger piece of work than one might expect; Lewis, who had done plenty of night club and variety show work as well as kiddie shows, was a fine singer and possessed a warm, vivacious charm that communicated well in the studio. Overdubbing also made it possible for Lewis to harmonize with Lamb Chop and her other characters, something she couldn't do on live television, and though Hi Kids! is clearly aimed at a young audience, Lewis' renditions of "Swingin' on a Star" and "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" are graceful and spunky enough to please grownups as well, and the arrangement by Jimmy Carroll are richer and less simplistic than was the norm for the children's market at the time. Time hasn't been entirely kind to Hi Kids!; Hush Puppy's voice is clearly based on the stereotypical tone of an African-American from the Deep south and while the tone is gentle, it hits a sour note five decades on. (To her credit, Lewis bowed to evolving sensitivities and dropped the Hush Puppy character in the early 1960s.) And a few of the jokes on this album were probably old when it was recorded, and they've collected a lot more dust since then which does them no favors. But anyone who remembers Hi Kids! fondly from their childhood isn't likely to be disappointed hearing it again today; Lewis was a gifted and engaging entertainer and this album captures her at her best.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/02/1999
Label:
Drive Archive
UPC:
0780674703925
catalogNumber:
47039

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