The first CD by Eric Herman and the Invisible Band, The Kid in the Mirror, was described by many kids and parents as their favorite album of the genre, and it spawned several classic kids' songs including the ever-popular "There's a Monster in My House" and "The Elephant Song". A typical response was, "My kids loved it so much. Lots of great energy, humor, and (gasp!) artistry. It's like if Sgt. Pepper's was a kids album." (-Steven Stewart, Finland) The Kid in the Mirror quickly became the best-selling album of Eric's discography, which includes several CDs of varying genres (by the name Eric Endres) including contemporary rock, folk-acoustic, musical theatre, progressive rock and more. Clearly, he was on to something with his initial foray into the kids' music realm.
Producing a comparable follow-up to 'The Kid...' would seem difficult, and yet the new Eric Herman and the Invisible Band album, Monkey Business, not only equals but surpasses the expectations of the group's formidable debut release. Monkey Business one-ups The Kid in the Mirror with track after track of brilliant and accessible songwriting, high-quality production with energetic arrangements and performances, themes that resonate and resound with kids' sensibilities, and an overwhelming sense of humor and fun. There are 14 tracks in all, including the infectious ode to picking up toys, "In the Box", the hilarious pirate fable, "Blackbeard, Bluebeard and Redbeard", the wildly participatory exercise regimen of "Bounce and Flap and Twist", the tongue-twisting goofiness of "Ten Times Fast" and the sweet and poignant lullaby "The Hero of Your Dreams". Once again, Eric has teamed up with the renowned children's poetry author Kenn Nesbitt (poetry4kids.com) to write the lyrics for several of the songs. Kenn even adds his considerable voice-acting talents on a few tracks, as the announcer for "The Math Game" and the "Prune Juice" commercial, the "sarge-ant" heard on "Ants in the Lunchroom" and the voice of Bluebeard in "Blackbeard, Bluebeard and Redbeard".
It has become something of a cliche in recent years for marketing children's music releases as "music for kids that parents will also like". Well, cliche or not, Monkey Business may be the ultimate example of that description, with sophistication in its musicianship and lyricism that belies its apparent simplicity and accessibility. This album is rich in flavors and nuances, and grows more endearing with repeated listens. The beautiful breather song "Don't Bother Any Butterflies" makes a clever reference to The Beatles, and the Fab Four's sense of memorability and musical depth is an evident influence on both Monkey Business and The Kid in the Mirror. And yet, the music is still completely original and fresh, and doesn't merely cop the styles of its influences. If anything, influential styles are transcended through the context of how they appear on Monkey Business, as in the Jethro Tull meets Rush feel of "Ants in the Lunchroom", which works perfectly as the soundtrack for the cartoonish depiction of a group of army ants invading a school cafeteria.
Other tracks on Monkey Business include the monkey call refrain of "The Monkeys", which creatively parodies another well-known group of the same sounding name; "Crazy Over Vegetables", a rocking anthem that was chosen as a finalist for a recent USDA sponsored production; "I Am a Robot", an appropriately robotic rock song with many funny lines and a sidesplitting twist ending; "Picture Day", which uses a catchy, modern rock sound to tell an amusing story; "The Math Game", a radio skit game show spoof which jokingly plays with the mathematical expectations of kids and parents alike; and "Rest Easy Now", the exquisitely melodic and sweet album closer.
At the heart of Monkey Business is the voice, musicianship and charm of Eric Herman. Whether portraying characters like the old salt narrator of "Blackbeard, Bluebeard and Redbeard", the fitness instructor of "Bounce and Flap and Twist", the eager but evasive robot of "I Am a Robot", or the smarmy game show host of "The Math Game", or singing with upbeat enthusiasm on "In the Box" or touching elegence on "Rest East Now", Eric is always engaging and hits just the right tone for each part.
Butter-Dog Records is offering a "monkey back" guarantee for orders of Monkey Business. For details, go to - http://www.endresnet.com/erichermanmonkeyback.html