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Good Golly! Two Unlikely Albums : Records: Little Richard and Cheech Marin’s forays into children’s music needn’t worry parents.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Once upon a time, dear children, there were two entertainers who made parents a little bit nervous.

One was a rock ‘n’ roller named Little Richard. He sang “Good Golly, Miss Molly” and rolled his eyes just so and parents thought he was being naughty.

The other one was a comedian named Cheech Marin. He was part of a comedy team called Cheech and Chong. Cheech made lots of jokes about illegal substances and parents thought he was naughty, indeed.

Now, these two bad boys of ‘50s and ‘70s pop culture are making children’s records. Should parents worry? Not a bit. Marin’s “My Name Is Cheech, the School Bus Driver,” available in both English and Spanish on the Ode 2 Kids label, and Little Richard’s “Shake It All About” from Walt Disney Records, combine the artists’ inimitable styles with zesty, refreshing child-appropriate songs.

The multifaceted Marin--filmmaker (“Born in East L.A.”), actor (“Golden Palace”) and Grammy-winning comedian--plays every kid’s dream of a bus driver on his comic, educational album. As he picks up children on his route, he jokes, cajoles, encourages and solves problems.

Each child prompts a new, fast-paced song about bullies and courage, trading lunches, using imagination to turn a scary dark tunnel into a trip to outer space. That distinctive Cheech manner frequently inspires a giggle in even the most mundane lyrics--"But in the meantime, better study hard. Your recess play is in the yard"--making these unabashedly educational songs a delight to hear.

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The album is available in both Spanish and English and comes with a humorously illustrated lyric booklet. It’s an enormously appealing first effort.

“On Top of Spaghetti” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” may seem light years away from “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti,” but they sound like vintage Little Richard on “Shake It All About,” his first full-length album in several years.

The rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Famer serves up familiar children’s songs as only he can, with a backbeat, frenetic piano pounding and his characteristic high-register “Ow! Ow! Ow!” and “Woooooo.” A lullaby album this isn’t.

Along with a cadre of kids and smooth musicians on drums, bass, sax, etc., Little Richard frolics through such staples as “The Hokey Pokey” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” A big part of the appeal is that the irrepressible star sounds as if he’s having the time of his life.

This isn’t Little Richard’s first foray into children’s music. His “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” was one of the highlights of Disney’s “For the Children” album to benefit the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and his appearance as Old King Cole on Shelley Duvall’s TV special, “Mother Goose Rock,” was a howl.

What a difference a few decades can make.

“My Name Is Cheech, the School Bus Driver,” Ode 2 Kids/Rincon Children’s Entertainment, audiocassette, $9.98, CD, $13.98. Widely available.

“Shake It All About,” Walt Disney Records, audiocassette, $9.98, CD, prices vary. Widely available.


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