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Carmichael’s Kiddie Tunes Reissued

And you thought you knew Hoagy Carmichael.

In 1970 Hoagy Bix Carmichael, the son of American Songbook king Carmichael Sr., was working as a producer at WGBH, Boston’s public television station. That was right around the time that public TV programs like Sesame Street and, more psychedelically, The Electric Company began making children’s education a heck of a lot more fun. Remembering that his father had cut a children’s record in 1958, Hoagy Carmichael’s Having a Party, Hoagy Bix conceived a television program that would re-introduce the songs to the children of the 70s. And he hired the trippy jazz-rock outfit Stark Reality, which featured guitarist John Abercrombie, to record them.

Who knows what happened to the television show. And who cares as long as we have the songs on CD thanks to the Stones Throw label, who took the tunes originally issued on AJP as The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop, added five more cuts penned by band leader Monty Stark and named the disc Now.

Crunchy tube distortion, wah-wah and enough ring-modulation to wreck your sense of balance is how the Stark Reality operated and the music immediately calls to mind shag carpet, swirling “incense” and Earth shoes-as well as images of Bert and Ernie trekking cross country, Easy Rider-style.

Issued with one previously unreleased track (“Roller Coater Ride”) and one bonus cut (“Say Brother”), the disc is notable to old-school jazz fans for the Hoagy tunes, but acid-rockers and groove-jazzers will dig it the most.

Now track list:

Junkman’s Song

Thirty Days Hath September



Shooting Stars

Rocket Ship


All You Need to Make Music

Roller Coaster Ride

Too Much Tenderness

Sunday’s Song

Say Brother

The Stark Reality:

Monty Stark, vibes

Phil Morrison, bass

Carl Atkins, reeds

John Abercrombie, guitar

Vinnie Johnson, drums

Originally Published