Here's the thing about Muppets: The Green Album, a new collection of classic Muppets tunes performed by some of today's most adored indie and folk artists: We are incredibly happy that no one attempted or butchered Big Bird's "Easy Going Day" from 1985's Follow That Bird. Seriously, that song brings tears to Rocks Off's eyes 26 years since we first heard it. Big, manly, nostalgic tears.
Beyond that, the Green Album is only middling, with the highlights few, and the head-scratching legion. We wish we could say that we were moved by Rivers Cuomo and Hayley Williams of Paramore's "Rainbow Connection," but the original can't be trifled with. The ballad, written by Paul Williams - there's a name you should all know - and sung by Mr. Kermit the Frog, is easily a classic on par with "Bridge Over Troubled Water and "Over the Rainbow," but that's just Rocks Off saying that.
Kids' music in the '70s and '80s was damned sad.
Elsewhere on The Green Album you will hear My Morning Jacket covering Alice Otter's "Our World." In terms of the rest of the MMJ catalog, this fits right in, with Jim James' echoey flash and the band's own whimsy showing; it's not too far off from this year's Circuital. Andrew Bird actually seems to understand he doesn't need to do anything to "Bein' Green" except add his trademark violin.
Brandon Saller from Atreyu and Billy Martin of Good Charlotte teamed up for Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem's "Night Life," but we really would have preferred "Can You Picture That?" Also, what has Good Charlotte been doing for the past five years? Could there be a band less suited for "Mahna Mahna" than The Fray? God bless "How To Save a Life" but throw Man Man a bone or something.
Of course OK Go shows up for "Muppet Show Theme Song" if only to ensure a great music video, which they made. OK Go is the most modern band going, tailor-made for YouTube and quickly-addicting singles with so much thought involved they sound mindless.
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So about half of the songs on The Green Album are Paul Williams compositions, which now leads us to beg for a decent Williams tribute album. In light of songwriting greats like Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford passing away on Monday, it brings to mind that what the world needs is songwriters, and not just jingle and hook creators.
Aside from being great kids music, Williams' Muppets work was an early indoctrination into the art of great song-building. Even when The Green Album misses, it's a great reminder of Williams' own prowess. Plus, Phantom Of The Paradise is like Roky Moon & BOLT on really great '70s drugs.