If you didn’t grow up with Golden Records, then surely your parents did. Founded by award-winning music producer Arthur Shimkin in 1948, Golden Records was one of the first children’s record labels in America. The label’s Little Golden Records captured warm and lively renditions of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, holiday songs, and educational tunes.
Now, the recordings have been re-released. In 2012, Verse Music Group began cataloging and restoring the over 25,000 Golden Records original analog sound recordings, many of which were orchestrated by Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Mitch Miller. No longer in a yellow vinyl format, the eminently lovable library of songs is slowly reemerging on CDs filled with new recordings of star-studded interpretations backed by beautiful music arrangements. These Parents’ Choice Award winning collections have appeal beyond nostalgia.
The Magic Continues restores the original recordings of the 50’s & 60’s, and updates them with the voices of such contemporary actors as Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, Alicia Silverstone, Busy Philipps, Cheryl Hines, Didi Conn, and Constance Marie. Classics such as “Rapunzel,” “Puss in Boots,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and (my personal favorite) “The Little Engine That Could,” are given fresh coats of digital paint. Making the package truly complete is the involvement of award-winning producer Tony Shimkin, son of the late Arthur Shimkin, carrying on his Father’s legacy.
Highlights from The Magic Lives On, the second celebrity disc, include Neil Patrick Harris’ rendition of “Three Little Pigs” along with Ziggy and Judah Marley’s unique readings of “Rumpelstiltskin” and “The Ugly Duckling.” Wallace Shawn, of The Princess Bride and My Dinner with Andre fame, offers a singular rendition of “Rip Van Winkle” that is worth the price of the CD alone.
Neil Patrick Harris reads “The Emperor’s New Clothes”
And Ziggy Marley records Rumpelstiltskin with his daughter, Judah
Beyond the rush of nostalgia and the familiarity of celebrity voices, the new Golden Records recordings like The Magic Continues and The Magic Lives On provide us with a cozy antidote to twenty-first century cynicism and tech-overload. They appeal to young ones with music that captures the magic and innocence of early childhood. And, as our reviewer Lahri Bond put it, “For listeners of any age, hearing actors the caliber of Susan Sarandon bring life to ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and Ed Asner put his mark on ‘The Little Engine That Could’ is a delight not-to-be missed.”