Various artists compilation of children's songs featuring Maroon 5, R.E.M., Dixie Chicks, Madonna, Blue Man Group, & more.
It benefits a great cause (preschool education for all American children), its star-studded lineup makes you want to have a listen regardless of your station in life (college kid, mother of quintuplets), and its stylishly askew songs are masterfully sequenced (Dixie Chicks chug into Madonna, Jack Johnson gives way to Moby), so that each track comes across a pleasant surprise. The only problem with Mary Had a Little Amp,
if there is one, is its title, which gives the impression that it's a hard-rocking affair when mostly it's not. For example, R.E.M. rightfully conjures images of cranking amps, but here the band tones it down with the playful, hyper-rhythmic "We Walk." And Bonnie Raitt, saluted as much for her slide guitar chops as her singing, turns in a snuggly rendition of "Baby Mine" from Dumbo. --Tammy La Gorce