Roy Bailey - Tomorrow (Fuse Records)
Roy's always had a penchant for education, in the truest sense of the word. Education should be fun, and a child's natural enjoyment of, and willing participation in music, can be both a vital element and a useful tool. And not just to prove the point, Roy has always included a short sequence of children's songs in his live sets, which have appealed every bit as much to the adults in his audience!
The first children's album Roy made was Oats And Beans And Kangaroos, back in the mid-60s, and as recently as nine years ago, the birth of his eldest granddaughter Jessica provided the impetus for the lovely Up The Wooden Hill collection. Now Roy has produced his final (oh yes!!) children's album, finally fulfilling a five-year-old promise to make a CD for his second (and third!) grandchildren. And of course it's a totally engaging disc, attractively packaged and entirely unpatronising (for a children's record doesn't have to be full of obvious childlike songs!) both in its friendly delivery and all-encompassing choice of material; as always, Roy infectiously combines the fun of singing with serious and important thoughts.
The key lies naturally in the CD's title - Tomorrow - which is shorthand for that all-important message for his own, and indeed all, grandchildren: "my hope is that you will make a better job of things than my generation has". The final two songs - Together Tomorrow and Tomorrow Lies In The Cradle (the latter penned by Fred Hellerman of the Weavers group) are not only practically unknown but turn out to be particularly moving, for they point this message into our consciousness ever so delightfully and leave us thinking. The remainder of the disc draws on songs from all over the musical shop, including three that Roy had recorded circa half a century ago on the aforementioned Oats… (Carrion Crow, Peri Meri Dixi and Three Blind Mice/I Hear Thunder, the latter sung this time, and most beautifully too, by Jessica herself!). Peggy Seeger's One Plus One is a truly inspired choice, while the "glorious fun" quotient is made up of Arthur Askey's bee-witching Bee Song and two brilliantly witty John Kirkpatrick numbers, King Neptune and Jogging Along With My Reindeer (what a combination - only 65 shipping days to Christmas, you could say!). Closer to home, Molly's Garden is a thoroughly charming ditty penned by Kit (Roy's daughter and Molly's mum), while The Collier Brig (a favourite song of Molly's) even gets an unexpected airing.
And when the kids have been captivated and are almost ready for bed, Roy tucks them up with the poetic story of My Pet Dragon (by John Maguire), which is gently enhanced by atmospheric sea sounds created by that good Mr Kirkpatrick's accordion bellows! In addition to the welcomely omnipresent JK, the album's signature musical backing is provided largely by Martin Simpson, Chris Coe and Andy Seward, with contributions from Andy Cutting and David Bailey and occasional chorus vocals from the assembled Bailey clan. A family affair, but a marvellously inclusive and life-affirming one that we can all join in with, enjoy openly and unpretentiously over and again and share readily with our children – and their children, and ever onwards…