It’s hard to listen to Pure Imagination, an album of Tin Pan Alley-style tunes selected for young listeners, without imagining a tableful of toddlers in diapers, boas, and smoking jackets, sipping gimlets. But I guess that’s okay; imagining things is what this collection’s about.
Like Harry Connick Jr., neo-crooner Michael Feinstein makes you feel nostalgic about music you’ve never heard. He’s a musical archivist, so many of these songs are unfamiliar-some for good reason. The ”Jitterbug” is all that’s left of a scene that was cut from The Wizard of Oz. Listening, you’ll know why. But ”The Mole People,” with its ”chomp-a-diddy” refrain and complicated sound effects, is probably a lot better than the 1956 horror movie of the same name for which it was written. ”Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” (”When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world”), which Groucho Marx performed frequently on stage and in the movie At the Circus, is hilarious.
Feinstein’s finds will interest adults, and his simpler songs will amuse kids. But there’s a parent gap here: Few of these songs will do both. B