When an iconic musical artist like David Bowie passes away, there’s bound to be an avalanche of unreleased tracks and greatest hits packages flooding the market. When Albumism’s editor-in-chief Justin Chadwick floated Let All The Children Boogie: A Tribute To David Bowie by me, a lifelong Bowie fan, I admittedly felt a twinge of skepticism gently tapping me on the shoulder.
I was relieved once I discovered that the covers project’s lineup of artists wasn’t a bunch of established artists coming around to snack on Bowie’s legacy. I barely got past the first chorus of “Oh! You Pretty Things” by the Honeydogs and Chastity Brown and I was more than ready to buy in. I was hooked.
Let All The Children Boogie, which derives its name from the line found in the chorus of Bowie’s 1972 single “Starman,” is billed as an all-ages album dedicated to the music and artistry of David Bowie. It is the brainchild of Bill Childs, who runs Spare the Rock Records (the album’s label), a family-run record company based in Austin, TX. In addition to his duties at the label, Childs produces a nationally syndicated radio show called “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.”
Childs co-produced the album with multi-Grammy nominee and winner Dean Jones, author and musician “Uncle Rock” Robert Burke Warren, and Stephanie Mayers, manager and publicist of Mayers Consulting. “I’ve been playing Bowie on the radio for kids for a decade, and listening to him for a lot longer than that, including seeing the Glass Spider tour back in the late ’80s,” Childs explains. “When word came of his death, I knew I had to do something related to it. It turns out there were two things: first, I produced a tribute show to him during SXSW, with everyone from family acts like Joe McDermott, the Pop Ups, and the Hey Lolly Band to definitely not-kids-acts Jon Langford, Charlie Sexton, and the David Wax Museum.”
Beyond the songs featured therein, the great thing about this album is the fact that the proceeds go to the It Gets Better Project, whose mission is to communicate to LGBTQ youth around the world that it does indeed get better, and to create and inspire changes in our society. Like Childs, I cannot think of a better conduit to spread this message than the music and spirit of David Bowie. “Having the proceeds go to It Gets Better made all the sense in the world, given Bowie’s inspiration and prominence in the LGBTQ community,” Childs adds. “I recruited some terrific co-producers, and we all worked hard to put together a record with an amazing lineup of artists, diverse and ludicrously talented, bringing unique and individual interpretations to Bowie’s originals."
This album is the prefect primer for kids not familiar with Bowie’s catalog and it also is a respectful and loving tribute that longtime fans of The Thin White Duke will enjoy. Many of the tracks receive slightly different arrangements than their originals here, but stay true to the spirit of the songs nevertheless. The standout songs include “The Man Who Sold the World” by Sonia de los Santos and Elena Moon Park, “Lady Stardust” by Uncle Rock and Tracy Bonham, “Ziggy Stardust” by Rhett Miller, and a vastly different reading of “Magic Dance” by Red Yarn.
Tribute albums can often be unimaginative, note-for-note reworkings of songs that hardly reflect the aura of the artist being honored. Luckily, this is not the case with Let All The Children Boogie. Mixing familiar Bowie tracks with some of his lesser known works like “V–2 Schneider” (Lloyd Miller & Dean Jones) and “Kooks” (Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players) was an absolutely brilliant touch that will please Bowie-philes like myself to no end. If you want to introduce your kids to Bowie’s music while keeping yourself entertained, Let All The Children Boogie is a great place to start.
Notable Tracks: “Lady Stardust” | “Magic Dance” | “The Man Who Sold the World” | “Ziggy Stardust”