Kiddo Flashback :: Put the Needle on the Record

Faced with a very rainy weekend, we tried to dream up some fun things to do that involved staying cozy in our home. As I surveyed the crazy mess that we call the living room, I glanced over at our turntable and realized we hadn’t played any records in months. In addition to my own records, I have a pretty decent sized collection of vintage kid’s albums and so we spent a wonderful afternoon building Legos, making a cardboard house for the cats (which they totally snubbed)—and listening to records. It was awesome! And it got me thinkin’….

image: jaxonista ( alas this isn’t mine. we have a grown up turntable…)

One of the main reasons I love vintage (aside from the CRAZY GOOD design) is because I’m all about the nostalgia. I love listening to the same records I listened to as a kid and sharing them with my little guy. It makes me giddy to the point of tears. I’m not kidding, I got totally verklempt when Wolfie decided he loved Free to Be You and Me, the Marlo Thomas 70s extravaganza. (As an aside you MUST get this on DVD for your kiddo. It’s the best show ever….groovy music, adorable animation, fun songs, rad 70s stars. I LOVE IT.)

OK. Back to business. Like most vinyl junkies, I love that crackle as you gently plunk the needle on the record, but I also love the ritual of sitting cross-legged on the floor and checking out the album art. Vintage kid’s records are a treasure trove of amazing artwork. You’ll find cool illustrations, bright colors, amazing fonts and genius type treatments. Since you all seemed to enjoy our little trip down memory lane with vintage Fisher Price, I thought it’d be fun to check out some awesome records covers. C’mon, let’s go!

First up, Romper Room. I love how formal these kids are—little bow ties and riding caps? Where is this preschool?? The songs on this album are all pretty adorable, even those Know-It-All braggers on the Doo-Bee Song. (click to take a listen) Hmm, I should write a new version of this song for bloggin: “Doo-Bee a Comment Leaver!” “Don’t be a Lil Lurker!” hyuck hyuck.

image: the awesome *julia

The line art on this next one is super duper, but let’s face it….any record that’s all about helping mommy at clean-up time is aces in my book. Ya hear that daddies??

image: tweedlebop (who is a pal of mine and an amazing illustrator in his own right!)

Look how super stylish these kiddos are. The cute lil pigtails on blue dress girl, that fab green stripey shirt on the little “A” boy—and check out that jaunty hip action on the kid on the right. I love him! I can just hear him shouting, “C is for CHARO!”

image: neatocoolville

The Disneyland record and book combo was a personal favorite of mine. I had so many of these little “read-a-long” books and can still hear that British woman saying, “You will know it is time to turn the page, when you hear Tinker Bell ring her chimes…..LIKE THIS.” They usually hired different illustrators and I even like that record/book logo in the top left. I never had this particular record, but  I’m so glad I found it. Who knew the wolf was such a groovy guy??

image:  *julia

OK, this one is from my personal record…..and while the music was ok, I remember thinking the album art was brilliant. Ernie, Bert and Cookie Monster as the Bee Gees?? Amazing. I remember all the teens in the neighborhood were groovin’ to “How Deep Is Your Love?” but they didn’t have anything on me and my disco Sesame. I felt like I was SO COOL. The cover was a fold-out and the inside art work was hysterical….Grover doing his best John Travolta dance moves. Check it out here, but then please come back….I’m not done with you yet!

image: Alix, modernkiddo

Sometimes I’ll find a great album cover but then the music is just kinda “meh.” Lemme tell ya, Sesame Street and Disney single-handedly produced some of the best records…I swear they had great artwork AND amazing songs.  How can you go wrong with a musical Monster-Osity?? That’s a whole lotta fun fur goin’ on.

image: Alix, modernkiddo

The artwork on this album is just the tops….I love the scripty way they’ve written “Puff” and his little sparkling scales are so adorable.

image: leifpeng

I’m not sure if this is very PC….I guess it should be called the Ten Little Indiginous Peoples….but….well….I just can’t help it. I think the font on “Ten Little” is fab and the little I.Ps are adorable.

image: Picture_Books

These illustrations make me crazy, they’re so good. They look like they were plucked straight out of a children’s book….that little boy and the little city?? Amazing.  I want a whole book like this. Also, that little crazy space age bubble head logo character in the red square?? I don’t know who or what he is, but he’s AWESOME.

image: wardomatic (a genius illustrator with the coolest wife ever, hula70)

This is another one that looks like a storybook. The playful little train is like charm on wheels. I’m intrigued by the “dramatic play and participation” bit. How dramatic can a play get?

image: wardomatic again

I remember when I spied this one in the record bin at Thrift Town … my eyes bugged out. LOVE that Veruca Salt’s little pink dress…and who knew Violet Beauregarde led a secret double life as ANNIE???

image: Alix, modernkiddo

OK, we take a break from illustration for two SPECTACULAR photographic covers. The hipster kids on this one are so bad ass. Like, “What? Yeah that’s right. I’m about to watusi to On Top of Old Smokey, now I suggest you step off, jack.”

image: Alix, modernkiddo

Hewwwww. Oh Marcy. Where do I begin….the waxy complexion? The vacant look in the eye? THE FREAKIN’ WEIRD DOLL holding her hand?? Honestly I don’t even know which one is “Marcy” but all I know is gingham has never looked creepier. Lord have Marcy.

image: The Retro-Spectre

OK, now that I have the heebie jeebies, I feel like we need to end on a happy note. The sweet simplicity of this one is a personal fave. “La la la!” We La La LOVE you Bert.

Tha-tha-that’s all folks! (“Great Alix, first the Ten Little Indians, now you’re making fun of people with a stutter?? NICE.”) Aw you know I’m just joshin’ ya. I hope you enjoyed this little jaunt down the vintage record store aisles! Do you remember any of these? What were some of your favorites?

MODERN KIDDO TIP: You can easily find vintage kiddo records at thrift shops and on ebay. The tricky part is making sure they are in great condition. Most vintage children’s records are sadly a little trashed, but you have to remember that these are albums that are well worn and well loved. If the scratches are surface scratches (and not deep) the record should still play fine. I’ve been pretty lucky to score many that are in primo condition, and it makes a difference! Be sure to check (or ask questions) when buying. If you don’t have a record player, that’s ok too….you can frame the albums and hang them in your kiddo’s room. If the record label is cool, or it’s pressed on colored vinyl, you can even hang the record itself!

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