The 8 Greatest Sesame Street Albums

By Chris Cummins in Daily Lists, TV
Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:00 am
4) Just the Two of Us
From the cover alone you can tell that this one was going to be something special. In a recording studio, Harry Monster works the engineering board while Grover and Cookie Monster sing their hearts out. The poor bastards. Little did any of them realize during this photo shoot that they would all fall victim to the Elmoization that would soon strike the street they called home. Sigh. At least we have this audio souvenir of a better time before the irksome red fucker (and some overly PC nonsense that limited cookie consumption) took over Sesame Street. This double LP is actually just a repackaging of the Grover Sings the Blues and C Is for Cookie albums. They are both packed with the brand of mischievous fun that was the show's trademark back when folks like Lefty and Roosevelt Franklin were still hanging around. Frank Oz does vocal duties for both characters here, though I must admit to preferring the Grover songs more. Partially because of my affinity for the troublemaking character, but also because tracks like "I Am Blue" and "What Do I Do When I'm Alone?" are so touching that you forget they were created for a piece of felt. As I mentioned, recent years have seen Grover and Cookie Monster pushed to the sidelines of Sesame Street. It's perfectly fine to be enraged about this. So allow yourself time to vent, then throw on Just the Two of Us and destroy an entire bag of Chips Ahoy. Cookie would have wanted it that way.

3) Love
BE Love.jpg
To quote Sam Beckett, "oh boy." Even if you believe (as I do) that questioning the sexuality of puppets is proof that America's obsession with pop culture has officially crossed the line into a shameful waste of time, it's hard not to look at this cover and think that Bert and Ernie are totally doing it. Further clues are found in the song "Do You Like Me?," in which a needy and possessive Ernie browbeats Bert into admitting that he does have feelings of affection for him before begging his duck-loving pal to turn off the lights. Whether Bert wants to sleep or get busy is left to the listener's imagination (for what it's worth, Avenue Q's "If You Were Gay" seems to be directly inspired by this song). Puppet sexuality controversies aside, the overwhelming message of this album is to try to live your life with love for yourself and others. I think we can all agree that's a message worthy of getting behind.

2) The Year of Roosevelt Franklin
My love for Roosevelt Franklin and his music has been previously documented here on Topless Robot (he topped my list of the 8 Most Underrated Muppets) so perhaps this entry is even more subjective than usual. However, I defy any of you to listen to 1971's The Year of Roosevelt Franklin -- which was reissued three years later as My Name Is Roosevelt Franklin -- and not be moved by either its music or its message. Roosevelt was created by Sesame Street's first Gordon, Matt Robinson, who saw the character as a way to discuss issues of race and prejudice on the show. In one of the craziest decisions ever made by public television execs, it was agreed that the purple Muppet reflected negative African-American stereotypes and he and his family were then sent into Sesame limbo. Along with the fact that Roosevelt was a fucking puppet and not a person, what Children's Television Workshop overlooked was that his message of being comfortable with yourself transcended race. It's a theme that is ever present on this album. Songs like "The Skin I'm In" and the raucous "A Bear Eats Bear Food" are toe-tapping tributes to diversity that still should be celebrated on Sesame Street today.

1) Sesame Street Fever
Much like Archie comics, Sesame Street never met a pop culture trend they couldn't exploit. The most fiscally rewarding example of tapping into the current zeitgeist came with the Sesame Street Fever album. Much like rotary telephones and those plates with the weird brown designs on the borders, anyone who grew up in the 1970s or '80s had this album. For awhile, it seemed like this LP was almost as ubiquitous as Saturday Night Fever itself. The involvement of Bee Gee Robin Gibb coupled with disco reworkings of iconic Sesame songs like "C Is for Cookie" and "Rubber Duckie" resulted in a demographic shattering success. Oh yeah, it's also tremendous fun to listen to. Well, except for "Has Anybody Seen My Dog?," an utterly depressing number in which Grover is an absolute cunt to Marty, Pointless trivia fact: somewhere in my sister's basement exists an audio cassette of a 5-year-old, speech impedimented me performing a horrible a cappella version of the title track.

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