Having been in love with THE MUPPETS for the better part of the past 34 years or so (yes, that is ME pictured with Kermit the Frog below right), it’s pretty much a given that MUPPETS: THE GREEN ALBUM would be something I’d be looking forward to. Originally announced in 2009 as MUPPETS REVISITED, the album underwent some tweaks before making it’s way to market this week.
With a dozen current artists reinventing or paying tribute to the timeless music of The Muppets, THE GREEN ALBUM sticks to songs originally performed by Jim Henson’s Muppets – predominantly from THE MUPPET SHOW, though songs from THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979), EMMET OTTER’S JUG BAND CHRISTMAS also appear. Those looking for songs from Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, or other Muppets-spinoffs will have to look elsewhere.
The album starts with OK GO doing their take on The Muppet Show Theme. One of the more imaginative reworkings to present itself, the pop rockers take a subdued approach with an infusion of electronic elements and fuzzed out, lo-fi instrumentation. The second track is fairly straight-forward take on The Rainbow Connection, reportedly the most-requested track for artists to rework. Sadly, WEEZER misses an opportunity here and plays it too paint-by-numbers. The vocals by PARAMORE frontwoman HAYLEY WILLIAMS were a later addition to the song and fall flat as well. Punk cover gurus ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES delivered a better version on their ARE A DRAG album back in ’99.
THE FRAY play Mahna Mahna pretty close to the original with a nearly dead-on duplication of Jim Henson’s famous vocal track. ALKALINE TRIO bring some much-needed rock to the set with Movin’ Right Along, a song that should be required listening on all road trips, while MY MORNING JACKET drops the tempo for their performance of EMMET OTTER’s Our World.
There’s a couple of real standouts in the album’s back-half, with SONDRE LERCHE’s excellent performance ofMr. Bassman, an THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT taking on Wishing Song. The real winner for the album is buried in the #9 slot, with BRANDON SALLER of ATREYU ripping it up with BILLY MARTIN for Night Life. As a kid I thought that the song rocked hard – and visions of that double-decker bus tearing through the streets on it’s way back to The Happiness Hotel still dance in my head. Saller and Co. take a fun song by The Electric Mayhem and turn it into a 100% legit rocker that should be listened to in full-on amps-to-eleven glory.
Bottom Line: MUPPETS: THE GREEN ALBUM is a nostalgia trip for those like me that were there the first time around. As an introduction to a new generation of Muppets fans, it may not be that effective. Replay value is already slightly questionable, despite the emotional ties to the source material. With THE MUPPETS hitting theaters this November courtesy of Disney (a proper soundtrack will be released on 11/22) my fingers are crossed that kids and adults alike will have something to love all over again.