Fred Rogers is one of the most important figures in the modern history of American television and music. His series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and the music featured in the show have impacted generations of audiences with their positive messages. They have been and continue to be so crucial to the development of children across America if not the world. Thanks to various releases on DVD and CD, the impact of his program and its music has continued to be felt even now in the 21st Century. The legacy and impact of Rogers’ work will continue once more Friday with the release of the new compilation record, Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2. The 20-song compilation will be released through a partnership between Fred Rogers Productions and Omnivore Recordings and is another welcome presentation of songs from the timeless television series. That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be examined shortly. The liner notes that are presented with the record add to the appeal established by the songs. They will be examined a little later. The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important elements and puts the finishing touch to the presentation. It will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the presentation that is Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2. All things considered they make the compilation another welcome presentation for every family’s music library.
Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2, the new collection of music from PBS’ timeless series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is an enjoyable new musical presentation from Omnivore Recordings and Fred Rogers Productions. The companion to the Grammy® award-winning 2020 compilation, Such a Good Feeling: The Best of Mr. Rogers, its success is due in no small part to its featured songs. As with that recording and unlike many other collections of music from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this is not just another collection of covers performed by a bunch of celebrities. It is the actual songs that were sung by Fred Rogers himself in his own inimitable fashion. Of its 20 total songs, only four are previously unreleased and only one was carried over from this record’s predecessor/companion collection. Now on the surface, carrying over so much music would seem a problematic issue. However in this case, it is actually a very good thing. That is because in all, the songs carried over to this set were pulled from a total of six other collections of music from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, all of which were released through Ominvore Recordings. Knowing the music was pulled from so many separate records and assembled together in this presentation means that regardless of whether audiences already own those collections, this presentation (and its predecessor/companion) audiences will be able to have the best of both worlds (or in this case many worlds) all in a couple of records. Those who do not already have the other records from which this set’s music was pulled now largely need not worry about buying them thanks to the amount of their content featured here. So again, this is a very rare case in which carrying over so much content from previous sources is actually a positive practice. It forms a strong foundation for the presentation in this case.
Building on the presentation formed by that content is the liner notes’ content. Crafted by writer and former Newsday TV critic Diane Werts, the liner notes paint a rich picture of Fred Rogers’ impact on America. Werts writes of Rogers’ legacy, “At the very moment TV was getting faster and louder, Rogers appeared: calmer and quieter…He emphasized the slow and steady, the familiar and routine. His sweater and sneakers. His tranquil attitude and serene way of speaking. His (only seemingly) simple songs. His open-hearted empathy.” She went on to note, “His intent was to reassure kids feeling overwhelmed by their burgeoning emotions.” Rogers clearly succeeded in that intent, too, as has continued to be shown to this day. The comments Werts shares here and so many others she included in her notes paint such a vivid picture of who Fred Rogers was and the reach of his positive influence. Her writing sets such a wonderful foundation for the compilation and will certainly add even more enjoyment to this presentation regardless of listeners’ ages.
The emotional impact of Werts’ liner notes is just one more aspect of this set that makes it so endearing. The record’s production rounds out its most important items and brings everything full circle. From beginning to end, the sound in each song is crystal clear, like it had been lifted right from the TV show. Of course this goes back to the fact that the majority of the record’s songs were themselves pulled from other previously released compilations. That means odds are the music probably was pulled from the show’s master recordings. If in fact that was the case, then it is just as much of a tribute to those responsible for handling the show’s production even when it was on television. The sound is rich and so easy on the ears even for those who might not otherwise by fans of cool jazz. The general effect that results from the positive production here finalizes the presentation and in turn makes for all the more reason for audiences to take in the collection. When it is considered along with the positives of the songs themselves and the liner notes that flesh out the packaging, the whole makes Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2 another wonderful presentation that every family will welcome in their music library.
Omnivore Recordings and Fred Rogers Productions’ new compilation record, Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2, is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new family music releases. Its appeal comes in part through its featured songs. The songs are largely carry-overs from previous collections of music from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. There is no denying that. The thing is that considering how many records the songs were pulled from, and that only one of the songs featured here was carried over from this specific set’s predecessor/companion, the collection is actually positive. That is because of how hard it might be to find those other records. Additionally, it also means less space will be taken up on shelves in families’ homes. The liner notes that are presented in this latest compilation are so heartfelt and genuine in outlining the impact of Fred Rogers, his show and its music. They build on the strong foundation formed by the songs to make the record all the more appealing. The record’s production creates an undeniably positive general effect that rounds out the set’s most important elements. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered they make Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2 a welcome presentation to every family’s music library.
Back in the Neighborhood: The Best of Mister Rogers Volume 2 is scheduled for release Friday through Omnivore Recordings and Fred Rogers Productions. More information on this and other titles from Ominvore Recordings is available at:
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