Sesame Street has, for more than half a century, educated and entertained audiences of all ages through its songs, skits and animated segments. Over the course of its more than 50 years on the air, the series has garnered recognition from around the world and produced any number of VHS, DVD and CD releases. Broadway actress Rena Strober – who has worked on TV shows, such as Sailor Moon, Liv and Maddie, and Penn Zero: Part Time Hero — will release her own tribute to the music of the beloved series with her new compilation album Imagine That!: The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss on Friday. The 14-song compilation record is a welcome addition to any family’s music library. That is due in part to its featured songs. This will be explained shortly. The songs’ arrangements add their own positive touch to the compilation. They will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make this compilation that will appeal to Sesame Street fans of any age.
Rena Strober’s new compilation of Sesame Street songs is a presentation that Sesame Street fans of all ages will appreciate. Its appeal is due in part to its featured songs. As the compilation’s subtitle states, many of the songs featured here aired during Sesame Street’s earliest years on television. Written and composed by the team of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss, the songs featured here were largely featured in the long-running series’ debut season, which aired in 1971. While the compilation reaches all the way back to the series’ first season, it also reaches all the way up to its 22nd season, which aired in 1989. Among the most notable of the featured songs are the timeliness tune ‘I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon,’ ‘Being Green’ and ‘Imagination.’ Also known by the title ‘It’s Not Easy (Being Green),’ that song in question is arguably the most timeless of the series’ songs. Sung originally by Kermit The Frog, it addresses the feelings that a person has in recognizing he or she is not the same as others. ‘I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon,’ sung by Ernie, is a touching lullaby that will put a smile on any listener’s face. It celebrates the fascination with exploring new places and the appreciation of being at home. Other songs, such as ‘High, Middle, Low,’ ‘Imagination,’ and ‘Sing’ all over their own entertainment. Given, the compilation largely focuses on Sesame Street’s earliest years, but even with that in mind, it still does its own positive job of profiling the state of the series’ music at that point. To that end, it is still a positive in its own right to this compilation. The arrangements of the compilation’s timeless tunes add even more enjoyment to its presentation.
Strober’s take of ‘Being Green’ is a prime example the importance of the songs’ arrangements. Strober stays true to the song’s source material here, but at the same time she also gives the song its own unique touch. Her vocal delivery style here brings out her Broadway training while flautist Shane Kirsch adds another layer to the song. The addition of the strings to the song’s arrangement enriches the composition even more. The subtlety in each musician’s performance takes the original song and makes it an even more deeply emotional work that listeners will love just as much as the original if not more. It is just one way in which the compilation’s arrangements prove so important to its presentation. ‘Believe in Yourself’ is another example of what makes the arrangements stand out.
‘Believe in Yourself’ has been performed multiple times throughout the history of Sesame Street. It was first sung by the series’ character Molly (played by Charlotte Rae). Since then, it went on to become a favorite of the show, performed by the likes of Diana Ross, Ray Charles and even Justin Timberlake throughout the years. Each rendition was unique in its own way, needless to say. Strober’s rendition presents its own unique presentation, too. That theatrical approach for which she is known for using is just as evident here as anywhere else in the album. At the same time, it is so easy to imagine her singing this song on the show today. The addition of the backing vocals from DOTZ singers Gavin Stevens and Coco Jernigan, and the banjo and violin lines adds even more enjoyment to the arrangement. It gives the song a whole new life and identity that makes the album overall that much more enjoyment for listeners. It is just one more way in which the arrangements prove pivotal to the record. ‘I Don’t Want To Live on The Moon’ is one more example of the importance of the arrangements featured in this recording.
Strober’s take on the timeless tune that is ‘I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon’ is even more moving than the original. Pat Coil’s performance on the song’s keyboard intro sets the tone right from its outset. That, together with Strober’s simple, minimalist vocal delivery adds even more depth. Giovanna Clayton’s performance on the cello is so gentle in its own right, too. When that gentle, subtle addition is joined with the keyboards and Strober’s vocal delivery the whole of the song becomes this compilation’s brightest point. It stays true to its source material and builds so much on that material at the same time. It is certain to become even more a favorite among audiences in this presentation. When it is considered along with the other arrangements noted here and the rest of the compilation’s arrangements, the end result is a record whose arrangements make it just as much as for the songs themselves and the history that they represent. It is just one more way in which the compilation proves worth hearing. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
Rena Strober’s new compilation starts off lightly with the bouncy, mid-tempo take of ‘Somebody Come And Play.’ From there, the record pulls back in ‘Sing,’ but then immediately picks right back up in ‘Imagine That.’ The rises and falls continue on from there in the next trio of songs, too – ‘Being Green,’ ‘I’m Pretty/I’m An Aardvark,’ ‘I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon.’ The rises and falls continue moderately from there on right to the compilation’s finale.’ The effect is that the album’s overall energy is balanced smoothly from one to the next. Those transitions and balanced energy are primarily aesthetic elements, but they work so well here. When it is considered along with the record’s overall content, the compilation in whole proves a fitting tribute to the work of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss, while also proving to be a collection of songs that Sesame Street fans of all ages will appreciate.
Rena Strober’s new family music album Imagine That!: The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss is an enjoyable new offering from the veteran actress. It is a work that shows even more the breadth of Strober’s own talents while also serving as a strong tribute to two of the greatest musical figures from the history of Sesame Street. At the same time, it is just as much a wonderful celebration of the musical history of the series. This is all due in pat to the record’s featured songs. The songs’ arrangements add their own unique touch to the record. The same can be said of the compilation’s sequencing. Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of this presentation. All things considered, they make it a work that the most devoted Sesame Street fans will appreciate. Imagine That!: The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss is scheduled for release Friday through Knighthawk Digital Entertainment Group.
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