I’ve been reviewing children’s music for 15 years. The Wiggles have been around for 29 years. In our collective space, I’ve only reviewed one CD by the Australian troupe – a solo effort by Greg Page in 2015. Not that they’ve waited for me; the Wiggles, currently in their second iteration, have released their staggering 55th studio album, entitled (wait for it) Choo Choo Trains, Propeller Planes & Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car! (and yes, the exclamation point is part of the title).
Emma, Lachy, Simon, and original member Anthony have collected 23 tunes for preschoolers, including songs about all forms of travel – walking, wheelchairs, space travel, swimming, surfing, trains, planes, and that aforementioned Big Red Car. “The Wheels on the Wheelchair Go ‘Round and ‘Round” is certainly an inclusive take on the old chestnut. “We Fly the Plane to the Outback” manages to work in wallabies, kookaburras, and other Australia wildlife during their flight. “Social Distancing” is about as topical as the group gets, addressing the necessity to stay home and be safe and using online technology to visit with friends and family.
I had two kids cycle through a fascination with the band and was stunned to read about their vilification Down Under after a contentious separation from Wiggle Sam. The re-invigorated quartet came back strong and Matthew was riveted the two occasions when he saw the group live on Long Island during their trips to the U.S. “Do The Propeller,” an early song from those days, is given an acoustic recording. The nearly 30-year-old “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car” gets a shine and polish as well.
Choo Choo Trains slipped through during the frantic first wave of the pandemic, and was released in July. But the Wiggles have managed the feat of staying young (curse you, Anthony and Captain Feathersword) while engaging with new generations of preschoolers for nearly three decades. They’ve traveled near, they’ve traveled far, they’ve kept in motion, and kept kids moving in the process.
Here is their video for “Here Come the Wiggles”: