The Underwater Land project recently supplied me with an MP3 download of their CD, "Underwater Land," created by the late, great and sorely missed Shel Silverstein. This was the pitch:
I'm writing you on behalf of the Shel Silverstein estate's Underwater Land project. Underwater Land is a kid's music project created by Shel Silverstein. This project was Shel's final major music project and also his final children's recording. Shel wrote Underwater Land, produced it, travelled to Nashville in 1997 to handpick the best musicians and studios there, and sings on several tracks with the primary singer and old friend Pat Dailey. Kim Llewellyn, Shel's longtime graphic designer, designed the lovely 32-page liner notes which features many previously unpublished Silverstein illustrations and all the song lyrics and verse.
And here's my take: this is some seriously awesome kids' music, full of Silverstein's flawless, legendary rhyme, his wicked humor, and some damned fine music and playing beneath it. It's fast, witty, and full of jokes that work on levels that can be appreciated by pre-verbal toddlers — the broad, comic recitations of songs like "Fish Guts," a kind of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" for the fish-kingdom — by kids, and by adults, who will appreciate the snatches of extremely grown-up jokes woven into the whimsy.
Some of my favorites: "Dale and Shale," a rapped advertisement for a notional store selling naught but tales (think of Tom Waits's "Pasties and a G-String" except about fish, not strippers); "Captain Octopus" (a rollicking sea chanty recounting the eight things a sailing octopus can do at once); and "Poor Anna," the sob-story of Anna, a flounder from Havana whose love affair is pull of superb and terrible fish puns (every now and again Silverstein and Dailey break each other up on this track, and I defy you not to do the same).
If you're a Silverstein fan, a fish fan, a kid, a grownup with a kid, or have an intact sense of humor, you will enjoy the heck out of "Underwater Land."