Album Review: The Wiggles – ‘ReWiggled’

11 March 2022 | 2:06 pm | Liz Giuffre

"It’s joy personified."

More The Wiggles More The Wiggles

The Wiggles are icons of Australian music as it serves us every day. Have you ever been near a toddler (or been the toddler) so distressed that only Fruit Salad could break the mood? Or have you been, like many of us recently, so numb from constant worry about pandemics, climate change and the rest that shamelessly nostalgia gives you just a little relief?

This double album by awesome local artists is the balm to soothe your bruised soul right now. It won’t fix everything that’s happening – that’s impossible – but it will make you feel a bit better for a while.

Now there is a disclaimer needed: there are sexy sounds ahead, and not always where you’d expect them. When The Wiggles do covers of ‘grown up’ songs they have taken the sexy out where they can (“takes off clothes” becomes “smelling a rose”, for example), but the whole album has had some ‘sauce’ added in unexpected places too. Let's just say if you're wanting something new to ‘rock-a-bye your bear’ too, there is certainly enough overdriven guitar, smooth synth and crooned jazz to get you there. Or to make your potatoes hot.

Whatever, you glorious weirdo.

Disc 1 is a tribute to The Wiggles (aka other musicians doing Wiggles covers).

This is not entirely unprecedented – head back to the 20th anniversary release Rewiggled: A Tribute To The Wiggles (2011) if you can find one! This new release offers some deadset gems though, with very little double up from before.

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Jumping around the tracks like a toddler loose on the touchscreen, make your first stop Emma Donovan & The Putbacks singing Say The Dance, Do the Dance. This recording will also make you want to dig out your old copy of Wilson Picket’s Land Of 1000 Dances, such is the masterful groove of it. The cover is so accomplished musically (Donovan’s voice is perfectly placed for both adults and kids listening), but also a real celebration, actually acknowledging The Wiggles themselves rather than somehow trying to sonically break out too far from the original. This is what happens when the skivvies meet The Blues Brothers, via some amazing local pipes.

At the other genre extreme is Dami Im’s crooned version of Big Red Car. This is a great example of what a cover really can be – truly inspired and showing the artistry of both the original and new performer. As if there was ever any doubt of her chops, here, friends, I dare you not to be in love.  It’s far from the (big red) car crash it could have so easily been. Eurovision was just the warm up, this one was the real hit. And I mean that in a real ‘past your bedtime’ kind of way. Back seat of the big red car, even?

Also gorgeous is Emma Wurramara’s lovely acoustic version of Dressing Up. Listen and think about it - who couldn’t do with a little dressing up and leaving the house in style at the moment? The Wiggles’ original is all about faking it til you make it, and I think grown-ups could take that on board here too – we’re all just doing that too anyway, aren’t we?

Custard’s Do The Propella overdrives its guitar just enough, and serves to confuse a new generation listening to the lead being done by “Bluey’s Dad”, Dave McCormack. For us ‘90s kids though, there’s enough handclaps and high-pitched smooth synth to bring it back to Custard though. Because girls like us DO go for guys like that.

For the trainspotters is Donny Benét’s cover of Sicily – an inspired dip into The Wiggles’ lesser-known back catalogue that is wonderfully weird. Benét’s Casio-driven delight goes all the way through irony and back again – my only complaint being it could have really leaned even further into Italo-Disco.

Honourable mentions also to the Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s version of We’re All Fruit Salad (which is as glorious as you’d expect) and The Chat’s punk-styled Can You (Point Your Fingers And Do The Twist?).

Disc 2 are Wiggly covers (aka The Wiggles covering other people’s choices).

Man, there have been some BOLD choices been made here. The Wiggles could have just played safe (You Are My Sunshine, Rainbow Connection, Shiny Happy People) - but no, there’s some real ‘out there’ business. At times here The Wiggles are dangerously close to having being taken over by The Muppets’ house band Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem. Perhaps for the 40th anniversary, eh?

Firstly, there’s the Tame Impala, let’s break the internet and Hottest 100 cover of Elephant. Haters gunna hate, and for the rest of it, it’s a banger.

Pub Feed by The Chats gets a lovely and pretty untouched tribute, and its so pure you can almost taste the soggy chips and overdone but cheap steak. The cover of Blondie’s Sunday Girl is also pretty faithful to the original, just reminding listeners of how great a song that one is and inviting a singalong.

The cover of Brand New Key is also delightful but kinda creepy. Especially if you remember how that song was used in the film Boogie Nights. I’m not here to kink shame if skivvies are your thing, friend. Same goes for Apple Crumble, the Lime Cordiale cover. Even though they changed the lyrics slightly and taken out the swears, maybe don’t listen too hard if you’re not up for a tune that is still essentially about a dude behaving badly. But damn it’s catchy.

Some of the other choices are a bit further down the line. Did The Wiggles need to cover AC/DC’s Thunderstruck? And whether or not they ‘needed’ to, it’s worth your time. As for the vocals, here various members of the OG, new and very new Wiggles provide vocals that are as smooth as Brian Johnson’s originals were rough. It’s a roll rather than a clap of thunder, as it were. Hang in for the bagpipes cameo too. A nod to A Long Way, but also a stable in The Wiggles’ sound kit, too.

A similar joyfully unexpected crossover comes from the cover of Fat Boy Slim’s Praise You (yes, ‘90s kid, they’re still here for you). A few cameos from Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword are standouts, and it’s cute as. They do this again for Rhianna’s Umbrella, and that one isn’t quite as strong. A too much like the version on Glee back in the day (again, childhood for many), but this one lets Lachy get his falsetto on, which is good if nothing else. Newbie Tsehay is also a lovely addition – performing a duet with Simon serving as ‘Mr Bassman’ underneath.

You might ask what a double album of Wiggles covers, and Wiggles doing covers, is for. The answer is: anyone who needs it right now. It’s joy personified.