It’s fair to say time hasn’t smiled on this record. The first verse sets up the singer as a dirty old man – keep the secret, don’t tell on me, etc. But then comes the twist – he’s a teenager trying to cop off with the children’s sister and just wants them out of the way. Well, okay, less promising material has been spun into gold – but even if the nudge-wink child molester stuff was just a bit of fun in the 60s, it sounds decidedly queasy now the gap between comedy pervert and national bogeyman has been narrowed.
If the Dakotas put in a great performance, of course, you might hardly notice the lyrics. But they don’t. “Little Children” lumbers grotesquely, an electric piano mixed unpleasantly high and telegraphing every poor joke while the seasick band rolls along. The intent, surely, was to make a charming record with all-ages appeal, but the clumsy execution turns this into an embarrassment.