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My childhood has been sold out. The whole thing just up and charged to the accounts of executives who think that simply because I happen to be part of the eminently targetable Gen X demographic I’m a sucker for prepackaged nostalgia. Atlantic Records has just released Schoolhouse Rock Rocks, a 13-song compilation featuring today’s pop stars singing the darling ditties that taught all us
Xers our times tables, grammar, and history. I admit, I was heartily singing along to Better Than Ezra’s version of “Conjunction Junction” and Ween’s take on “Shot Heard Round the World,” but they sound so much like the originals that I was tempted to go buy the video so I can treasure the real thing as envisioned by Bob Dorough. Man…or Astro-man?’s version of “Interplanet Janet”—my all-time favorite Rock—made me remember how much the song inspired my fascination with astronomy. (I wanted to be just like Janet and go to Space Camp. Mom said no) But the result of this unsolicited trip down memory lane is utter disgust. Musically, the disc does nothing but disappoint. Lou Barlow makes for the most unenthusiastic bill that ever sat on Capitol Hill, and both Daniel Johnston (“Unpack Your Adjectives”) and Bill Janowitz (Buffalo Tom does “Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here”) sing in incredibly stupid, patronizing, baby-boy voices. Tunes from the most classic episodes, “Interjection!” (I expected Smashing Pumpkins to do that one), “Sufferin’ for Suffrage,” (Tori Amos didn’t bite?), and the Preamble to the Constitution (R.E.M. must be too important now) are all mysteriously missing. Figures as much. Atlantic’s greasy A&R creeps would sell my whole childhood if they could; as it is, they don’t even know which parts of it would move the most units.