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Maternal Melodies

Eclectic collections of lullabies a soothing reward for mom.

May 08, 1997|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Mother's Day just around the corner (it's Sunday), you might want to consider one of these unusual lullaby albums for your favorite mom or mom-to-be.

The Planet Sleeps. Sony Wonder. CD: $17.98; Cassette: $8.98. Wow. What a gorgeous album, and what a perfect maternal gift. This exquisite collection of lullabies, gathered from 16 countries, is the result of an around-the-world quest by the album's producer, David Field, whose sensitive selections celebrate unity and the universality of familial love.

Each track is discovered treasure, from the delicate a cappella voicing of the traditional "Fais do do," recorded in a Paris home with the faint morning song of birds in the background, to "Oj Talasi (O Waves)" recorded during a brief cease-fire in Sarajevo in 1994 by the now-scattered Trebevic Choir. The liner notes are a soulful adventure in themselves; the CD is enhanced with CD-ROM multimedia, including film footage and illustrations. Note: The WORK Group will donate 50 cents from each retail sale to UNICEF.

Sleeping With the Fishes. Baby Boom Music. 49 minutes. CD: $15.95; Cassette: $10.98. (888) 470-1667. Guitarist/singer Michael Johnson ("Bluer Than Blue," "Almost Like Being in Love") joins the accomplished artists who make up "The Music Workshop for Kids" in this eclectic collection of lullabies for and about babies and parents--expectant and otherwise.

A few romantic ballad-type songs, such as "Expectant Joy," err on the cloying side, but the rest make up for them. Highlights include Johnson's wonderfully mellow "I Can't Sleep," written with Scott Nelson, and Mary Jane Alm's "Right Here Right Now," about a mom's realization that her baby won't be a baby long, "but right here, right now, I'll keep you safe and warm."

Sleeping: Music for Efficient Sleep I. Wind Records. 49 minutes. CD: $15.95; Cassette: $10.95. Don't listen to this one in the car--the driver won't be immune. For sleepyheads of any age, this very prosaically titled release from China may or may not "regulate Chi energy" for "quality sleep" as claimed, but the soft, soothing melodies, performed by the Shanghai Chinese Traditional Orchestra, are a remarkably restful way to soothe away the jangles.

Kids Classics: Lullabies. Angel/EMI Classics. 71 minutes. CD: $9.99-$10.99; cassette: $6.99-$7.99. (800) ASK-TOWER. No razzmatazz, just beautiful orchestral performances of classical works by great composers, including Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," Faure's "Pavane," Brahms' "Lullaby" and works by Debussy, Mozart, Chopin and others. It's part of the label's new quality series of themed recordings for children featuring classical music presented by world-class artists and conductors. CDs and cassettes come with a booklet introducing the works and instruments.

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