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Alphabet Zoo
by John Beresford Date Added: Monday 04 April, 2005
I was driving home from work one Friday in December 1982, when Ralph's unmistakable voice - and guitar - came on the radio: 'Holly the hedgehog, Holly the hedgehog, nobody wants to sleep with her?'. An EP (remember those?!) of four songs from a forthcoming children's TV show had been released in time for Christmas. Two LPs followed in 1983 - "Songs From Alphabet Zoo" and "Best of Alphabet Zoo", both on Ralph's new 'Mays' label. It's not clear why the second album was released, unless it was due to the interest shown by 'Music for Pleasure', who also issued the title.

Alphabet Zoo was a resounding success - two series of 26 episodes, for each of which Ralph wrote a song based upon the theme of an animal story told by Nerys Hughes - with remarkably few repeats. Ralph has rarely played them in his concerts - sometimes "Tammy the tortoise", occasionally "Kenny the kangaroo" - and has usually feigned embarrassment at having written 'children's songs'. For they're NOT 'children's songs'. They are songs for children of all ages, written with the same care and attention to detail as any songs intended for Ralph's 'usual' audience. "Impala song" and "Unwin the unicorn" would grace any Ralph McTell album, and the listener need never know their origin.

In 1993, 'Road Goes on Forever' celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first TV airing of "AZ" by issuing a CD called "The Complete Alphabet Zoo", which included all the songs from the EP and two LPs, plus six more songs recorded for the occasion. It had 27 songs in alphabetical order - with two 'N's. (I know, there are no 'N's in alphabetical!). Leola reissued this CD as "Alphabet Zoo" in 2001.

That means there are still about 25 songs that have never been released?!

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
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