Champion yarn-spinner and tunesmith to the pre-teen set, Bill Harley has refused to grow up. Not the way most people grow up, anyway. Somewhere along the line he mastered a form of arrested development that's allowed him to maintain a kid's perspective of the way the world works--and doesn't work.
For proof, check out these two CDs--one a newly recorded "greatest hits" compilation, the other an entertaining sampler of stories long and short.
The songs on "Play It Again" are full of catchy choruses and lyrics that range from the silly or scary to the surprising and instructive.
The best of the lot, including "Monsters in the Bathroom," "Dad Threw the TV Out the Window," "Cool in School" and "50 Ways to Fool Your Mother," capitalize on Harley's undiminished sense of wonder, whimsy and mischief.
Of course, parents will appreciate the fact that the guitar-toting Harley not only seems innately tuneful, he's been around long enough to cultivate an interest in a pleasing variety of folk and pop music styles.
While the songs on "Play It Again" are punctuated with one new tale, "The Battle of the Mad Scientists" is devoted entirely to storytelling.
Some of them are a tad too long--the album's title track, for one--but Harley's gift for blending narration and character voices makes each of these imaginative scenarios pay off.
Appearing Saturday with Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer at the 14th Annual Holiday Family Concert at the NOAA Auditorium in Silver Spring.
To hear a free Soundbite from "Play It Again," call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8124. For a Sound Bite from "The Battle of the Mad Scientists," press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)