- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rockabye Baby! : Lullaby Renditions of the Beatles

Michael Armstrong

Baby Rock Records

The first time I played “Rockabye Baby! : Lullaby Renditions of the Beatles,” I deliberately refrained from reading the track listing beforehand. I wanted to see if I would recognize the Fab Four’s songs re-imagined as lullabies.

Ironically, the only one that wasn’t instantly recognizable was the fitting “I’m Only Sleeping,” a cut from the 1966 album “Yesterday and Today.”

I listened on my post-midnight commute home, which took about as long as the 42-minute running time of the 12-track album, and found myself yawning. I’m not sure whether that reflected how well Beatles songs work as lullabies or was simply a result of a hard day’s night at work.

These “lullaby renditions” — the latest entry in a series of such albums from the Baby Rock label, which bills itself as “delicate, dreamy music that transports baby to a slumberland of rock dreams” — are the melodic stylings of Michael Armstrong performed on “baby-friendly” instruments such as the glockenspiel, vibraphone, Mellotron, harps and bells, but sans lyrics. (Baby Rock is a sister label to CMH Records, which, in like fashion, specializes in bluegrass-instrumental tributes to various rock and country artists.)

As arranged by Mr. Armstrong, these lullaby versions hew pretty closely to the originals. Although “Golden Slumbers” is curiously absent, a dozen of the band’s classics are here, from the album opener “Yesterday” to “Yellow Submarine,” “Something” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Though none stood out from the others, they’re all treated with the respect they deserve on the disc — which obviously is aimed at boomer grandparents and their Gen-X offspring (as were two similar, though unrelated, recordings, 1999’s “Beatles for Babies” and 2001’s “Bedtime With the Beatles”).

Released the same day as counterpart CDs featuring lullaby versions of music by Bob Marley and Bjork, the Beatles’ “Rockabye Baby!” is one of 19 Baby Rock compilations to date. Earlier entries in the lullaby series showcase its diversity, featuring interpretations of songs by the Beach Boys, the Eagles, No Doubt, Nirvana, the Ramones and Radiohead.

Coming next month: the Pixies.

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