"I grew up listening to the Dr. Demento show on KMET in Los Angeles.' said On The Radio president Jeff Leve. "So when the opportunity came to work with the most unique talent in radio, I jumped at the chance!"
The Doctor's move to On the Radio comes after more than 14 years with the Westwood One Radio Network.
Listeners should notice an immediate improvement in the show's sound quality, because it is now being distributed to stations on compact disc. (Previously, it was one of the last radio shows still distributed on vinyl, which gives the Doctor a certain sense of perverse pride, historian that he is).
On most weekends, listeners nationwide will now hear the show exactly as it's heard in Los Angeles. Most noticeable is the addition of the "Demented News," a weekly feature written and voiced by the Doctor's longtime L.A. cohort, Whimsical Will.
With the move to On The Radio, the Doctor also welcomes Rhino Records as a sponsor. "It's a perfect match," says Dr. Demento. "Rhino's huge catalog of roots-rock, blues, jazz, country, holiday music AND its terrific comedy/novelty collections means there's something for every listener. I've enjoyed working with Rhino for many years now."
Most listeners will continue to hear the show on the same stations as before. In a few places, such as the San Francisco-San Jose area and Cleveland, the show is now heard on a different station. The show is also being heard now in quite a few places where it wasn't previously available. If you have trouble finding it, don't hesitate to call or write local stations and ask about it. (See separate story in this issue).
Topping our list is the latest from "WEIRD AL" YANKOVIC, Off the Deep End (Scotti Bros. 72392 75256-2). It's as fine as anything Al's ever done. Like his first five albums, it has a mix of parodies ("Smells Like Nirvana," "I Can't Watch This" ) and originals ("You Don't Love Me Anymore, "When I Was Your Age") and, for good measure, a polka medley of recent hits ("Polka Your Eyes Out.") Al produced the album himself this time, with the same crew that's been with him since 1983: drummer Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, guitarist Jim West, bassist Steve Jay, and engineer Tony Papa.
Off the Deep End is Al's first non-soundtrack album since 1988, and he
supported it with a three month nationwide tour. He's out on the road
once again as this is being written. He's also done quite a bit of TV,
including a half-hour special for VH-1 and some death-defying stunts
for Circus of the Stars.
You'll also find Al's name, and another side of his talents, on another exciting project: Babalu Music: I LOVE LUCY's Greatest Hits, available on video as well as on CD (Columbia CK 48507) and cassette. It's got Al's def dance remix of Desi Arnaz' finest moments, along with 18 Ricky Ricardo gems in their original TV incarnations.
Scotti Bros. has also re-released Al's six earlier albums as budget-priced CD's -- including his first album, which had not previously been available on CD. And I must also mention "Weird Al" Yankovic's Video Library," which has all of Al's famous videos from "Ricky" through "Smells Like Nirvana." (Many, l hasten to add, have brief cameos by Dr. D.)
Another new budget-price CD should go right to the top of many
Dementites' all-time favorite lists: The Best Of SPIKE JONES (RCA
07863 53748-2). It's the same lineup of 12 City Slicker smashes first
assembled back in 1960 as Thank You Music Lovers. l can't quarrel one
bit with the track selection; it's held up very nicely all those
years, just like the music itself. RCA's new digital mastering still
has more echo than I'd prefer, but thankfully the horrid phony stereo
found on most LP's of this compilation has been done away with.
By the time you read this, two CD's of live Spike Jones performances from his late 1940s CBS radio show should be in the stores, thanks to Rhino Records. These are from the peak years of Spike's career, and contain lots of spoken bits and musical numbers that Spike never put on phonograph records, along with lively alternate versions of some of his record hits.
Cousins, Cattle and Other Love Stories (Warner Bros. 9 26844-2) is the latest from PINKARD & BOWDEN, today's answer to Homer & Jethro. "Censor Us," "Sexual Harasser," "Trailer ParkWoman" and "Since My Baby Turned Gay" are well up to P&B's high standard of low comedy. As with their previous album, part of this one is live and the rest was done in the studio. Some songs appear in both the live and studio segments, but with R-rated lyrics in the former and PG versions in the latter--take your choice!
TOM LEHRER fans rejoice! All three of the master's classic collections of satiric songs are now available on CD. Tom Lehrer Revisited (Reprise 26203-2) is the superior 1959 concert performance of the 1952-54 songs (originally featured on the legendary 10" LP Songs By Tom Lehrer), with a swell bonus: two of the hard-to-find songs Tom wrote and recorded for the children's TV show Electric Company. An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer (Reprise 6199-2) and That Was the Year That Was (Reprise 6179-2) are exact CD reproductions of the 1960s LP issues. All three belong in any Demented CD library.
Many digitalized Dementites will also want to have at least some of the eight CHEECH & CHONG albums now available on Warner Bros. CD's. The CD packaging on Big Bambu, Los Cochinos and so on can only hint at the elaborate, audacious covers of the original LPs, but all those sly sound effects are a joy to hear in noiseless digital stereo.
The art of rock 'n roll spoofery continues to thrive in 1992. Sgt. Pepper's by BIG DADDY (Rhino R2 70371) has all 13 songs on the Beatles classic rearranged in various vintage rock n' roll genres. Big Daddy's previous album Cutting Their Own Groove (Rhino R2 70733) is even better, with "Ice Ice Baby" reborn as a rockabilly blaster, "Nothing Compares 2 U" a la Little Richard, et cetera.
Another band that plays musical anachronisms for laughs is SPINAL TAP. Veteran TV sketch comics Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer first created these aging British rock stars for the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap. For their 1992 reunion album Break Like the Wind (MCA MCAD-10514) they yielded to the temptation to make real commercial music for rock radio. As a result the humor is subtle to the point of non-existence at times...but do cue up track 13 (purposely omitted from the song title listing on the CD box) and revel in a hidden masterpiece of morbidity.
MONTY PYTHON Sings, a handy and hilarious single-CD compilation of nearly all the group's musical numbers, is on Virgin America 2-91781. A British import well worth searching out is The PETER SELLERS Collection, a happy hour's worth of the great actor's 1950s-1960s comedy recordings, spoken and musical. Many of these were produced by George Martin, before and during his tenure as the Beatles' record producer. Sellers' 1955 demolition of "Unchained Melody," done while he was a member of the Goons, is itself well worth the price of the CD. (EMI CDP 7 94689 2).
My good friends at Rhino Records continue to put out the occasional comedy album along with rock 'n roll classics and other great sounds of the past and present. I've already mentioned the two new Rhino Spike Jones CD's; also scheduled for 1992 is a single CD containing two wonderful mid-1960s comedy concept albums, You Don't Have To Be Jewish and When You're In Love the Whole World Is Jewish. Cast members include Valerie Harper, later to become TV's Rhoda, along with Betty Walker, Lou Jacobi and Frank Gallop (who recites the Funny Five favorite "The Ballad of Irving.").
BILL DANA Asks: Jose` Can You See? The Best of Jose` Jimenez - Yesterday and Today is Rhino R2 70749. The "Yesterday" part of the album -- about 75% of the disc -- contains the original " Astronaut" and many more of those "My Name - Jose` Jimenez!" routines that were so wildly popular on TV and records in the 1960s. Spike Jones does a brief cameo. The"Today" part is mostly musical new material co-written and produced by Jim West (best known as "Weird Al" Yankovic's guitar player). The new stuff is great and I'd love to hear more.
Another distinguished comic, ROBERT KLEIN, contributes over an hour's worth of witticisms on life in the 1990s and other decades on Let's Not Make Love (R2 70750).The title cut is a song described by Klein as "a kind of anthem for the official end of the sexual revolution." Rhino has also reissued two long- unavailable albums of classic Klein: Mind Over Matter (R2 70768) and Child of the 50's (with the great song "Fabulous 50's" (R2 70769).
Golden Throats 2: More Celebrity Rock Oddities (R2 71007) is a worthy successor to the original Golden Throats compilation released in 1988. Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Chad Everett, Bing Crosby and Sammy Davis Jr. are among the worthies who try to show the world they too can sing rock 'n roll -- and succeed only in proving that a great song plus a great singer doesn't always equal a great performance, but quite often an unintentionally hilarious one. Truly dumbfounding.
There are lots of great performances, and lots of uproarious lyrics, on Risque Rhythm: Nasty 50's R&B (R2 70570). Here are the original "Big Ten-Inch Record" by Bull Moose Jackson, the original "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box" by the Toppers, along with "Sixty Minute Man," "Work With Me Annie," "Big Long Slidin' Thing" and 15 more featuring such stars as Dinah Washington, Julia Lee and Hank Ballard.
The latest BARNES & BARNES album, Loozanteen (R2 70517) is the best showcase yet for the inspired musicmaking of guitarist Bill Mumy and keyboardist Robert Haimer. As usual with B&B, though, it's the lyrics that catch your attention. They're relatively serious this time, with articulate, occasionally perverse reflections on just about every known kind of human sexual response. No kids songs here! (Robert Haimer has, however, become a prolific composer-performer of children's songs for clients such as Disney Studios and Hanna-Barbera, often with lyrics by Bill Mumy. While I'm on the subject, Tom "T-Bone" Stankus of "Existential Blues" fame is also working on an album of kids' songs).
Also on Flying Fish are two quite wonderful albums by ED'S REDEEMING QUALITIES, who performed "live under the smogberry trees" on my show in the spring of 1992. They're not virtuoso performers, but the little songs they write and sing about ordinary people and their lives in the big city are curiously affecting. Flying Fish recently signed JOHN KRUTH, a marvelous mandolin player who's recently developed quite a knack for humorous songwriting; expect a new CD from John in early 1993. And there's plenty of funny stuff on JOHN HARTFORD's albums from the 1970s, recently reissued on CD. Flying Fish CD's and tapes can be found in the "folk" category at larger stores and specialists. Info: Flying Fish Records, 1304 W. Schubert, Chicago, IL 60614.
Among the veteran artists who've put out new albums since our last "New Demented Discs" is RAY STEVENS. Ray's changed labels, but not his time-tested formula for fun. In fact #1 With a Bullet (Curb CDP 7 95914 2) is his best outing in quite a while, with "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens," "Working For the Japanese" and "Power Tools".among its merry moments. Curb has also put out Ray's umpteenth Greatest Hits album.. PETER SCHICKELE, a.k.a. P. D. Q. Bach, has in fact given us two new CDs, nabbing his third consecutive Best Comedy Recording Grammy award with WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio (Telarc CD-80295) and following up with Music For an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion (Telarc CD-80307).Meanwhile, Vanguard Records (now part of the Welk Music Group, as in Lawrence)has reissued many earlier P.D.Q. Bach albums on CD.THE CAPITOL STEPS also have a pair of new CD's; 76 Bad Loans (Capitol Steps CSCD 1010) contains a terrific satire on Political Correctness, "You Don't Bring Me Floriculturally Diverse Soilistically Challenged Multipetaled Victims of Pesticidal Food Chain Chauvinism." You can order this and numerous other Capitol Steps releases by phone; the number is 1-800-733-STEP.The Southern humor of LEWIS GRIZZARD is at its folksy yet cutting best on Lewis Grizzard Live! Don't Believe Ida Told That (Columbia CK 48698).
More reissues: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, which has amassed a hefty catalog of classic rock and jazz albums remastered with special care for high-end audiophiles (and sold at high-end prices) has now done its thing with the much-revered 1967-74 Columbia albums by FIRESIGN THEATRE. Firesign took special delight in entrancing its listeners with intricate layers of sound effects and background conversation, which can now be savored without the distractions of record scratch. Waiting For the Electrician Or Someone Like Him is MFCD 762; I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus is MFCD 785. Take it from there. l have seen these discounted to more or less normal CD prices, so shop around.
Several other vintage Columbia comedy albums have now shown up on Sony Music's budget-priced Legacy series: EDDIE MURPHY's debut album with his "Buckwheat" bit and "Boogie In Your Butt," NATIONAL LAMPOON's Gold Turkey (with early bits by Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray and friends), plus albums by DAVID STEINBERG and JOE PISCOPO. K-Tel's Comedy Classics (#30462) has a grab bag of mostly good stuff from George Carlin, the Smothers Brothers, Hudson & Landry, Groucho Marx and six others. MCA Special Products has two budget-price CDs, Best of Comedy (MCAD 20581) and Classic Comedy (MCAD 20671) with top-drawer material by Bill Cosby, Jerry Clower, Buddy Hackett, Rodney Dangerfield and others, some of it from albums that have been out of print for many years. Caution: the sound on Hackett's famous "Chinese Waiter" monologue on #20581 is hideously distorted.
Poor sound also mars the otherwise first-rate collection of 1940s/1950s material on Comedy's Greatest Hits (Bellaire CD-1118). This is a CD reissue of an LP originally released in the 1970s. On that LP, many of the tracks play about 10% slower than the speed at which they were originally recorded, making them sound dull and draggy. That careless mistake is repeated on the CD. Compact discs are like computers -- garbage in, garbage out! One track that does come out OK is Johnny Standley's "It's In the Book," the famous "Grandma's Lye Soap" routine. A #1 million-seller in 1952, it doesn't seem to be available anywhere else right now.
A mild caveat emptor is also appropriate for BENNY HILL...The Best
(Continuum 19206-2). The recording of Benny's signature song "Ernie
(The Fastest Milkman In The West)" on this CD is not the original hit
version. However, this album, apparently recorded not too long before
the British TV star's lamentable death, does have quite a few highly
amusing songs by Benny not available elsewhere. (380 Ludlow Ave.,
Cranford, NJ 07016).
MAIL ORDER DEPT.: You won't find these in many stores, but they're
readily available by mail at the addresses shown.
DA YOOPERS -- FOR DIEHARDS ONLY is the long-awaited CD collection of this Upper Michigan troupe's greatest hits, previously released on cassettes and 45 RPM singles. "Second Week of Deer Camp" is here, along with Part 2, and other rustic favorites like "Beer Gut," "Rusty Chevrolet," "Three Months Late," and "Diarrhea." Their songs and sketches are earthy (potty humor haters beware!), remarkably non-malicious, and often very funny. It's humor from the heart of America (and other organs too). This generous 22-track CD is available from You Guys Records, 490 N. Steel St., Ishpeming, Ml 49849. Phone (906) 485-5595.
Da Yoopers' rivals from neighboring Wisconsin, BANANAS AT LARGE, are likewise best known for a funny song about deer hunters, "De Turdy Point Buck". This and other appealing Bananas ballads are available on cassette. Write to Bananas at Large, 3509 Dixon, Stevens Point, WI 54481 for info on Da "New" Turdy Point Buck Album.
Common Scents is the latest from Washington, D.C.'s PHEROMONES, and it has the best song I've heard about the Persian Gulf War, "The Babyl of New Kuwait," along with the fine environmental spoof "(It Ain't Easy Bein') Green." (EC Records, PO Box 5765, Bethesda, MD 20814). California's pickin' and singin' DOODOO-WAH score high on the laff meter with "BARF Construction, "Odor In the Court," "Birthday Every Day" and the original versions of two songs covered by Ray Stevens and Pinkard & Bowden respectively,, "Workin' For the Japanese" and "Since My Baby Turned Gay." (c/o Ron DeLacy, PO Box 15, Columbia, CA 95310.) Michigan's WALLY PLEASANT resembles Jonathan Richman at first hearing but songs like "Bad Haircut," "Small Time Drug Dealer" and "Dead Rock n Roll Stars" have more of a cutting edge to them. Wally's CD Songs About Stuff has some first-rate satire, in fact. (Wally Pleasant, PO Box 1024, East Lansing, Ml 48826). San Jose's HOWIE NAVE alternates reflective ballads with funny lyrics like "Your Father Was Once My Mother" and "I Want a Part Time Girl for Christmas." Both types of songs often have surprising depth. For info on Howie's CD I Can't Believe I Said That write to Howie at 5638 Allen, #2, San Jose, CA 95123 or call him at 408-224-6283. ANDY BRECKMAN is a mordant East Coast singer-humorist who cites Tom Lehrer as a major influence. Don't Get Killed has the title song and 13 more (Gadfly Records, PO Box 6603, New York, NY 10128). SLANT 6 AND THE JUMPSTARTS offer their Funny Five hit "Mrs. Fletcher" plus "The Disease Song," "Got the Gout," "Mr. Miller (I'm Having Chest Pains)" and some non-medical delights as well. CD's and tapes available from the band at PO Box 295, Grafton, MA 01519. MR. ELK AND MR. SEAL offer lots of delicious whimsy on their nicely-sung cassette of a dozen a capella originals, Nula Verba Obscenitus. Elk and Seal, who used to be in a trio called Bongos, Bass & Bob with Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, will soon have a new tape as well (11811 Pheasant Lane, Minnetonka, MN 55343-6691). JOEL MABUS is probably best known for his heartrending song about the Vietnam Memorial, "Touch a Name On the Wall" (one of the few totally serious songs I feel a need to play on the show now and then). His albums have very funny songs on them too, however, and dazzling acoustic guitar work (Fossil Records, PO Box 4754, East Lansing, Ml 48826). LOU & PETER BERRYMAN have eight albums of clever, literate musical humor in a modern folk vein. Their latest, We Don't Talk About That!, has a great song about what you can do with your old LP records. They're at PO Box 3452, Madison, WI 53704.
Got some nice CD's recently from musician-producer Erik Lindgren, of Boston. The Space Negros Do Generic Ethnic Muzak Versions Of All Your Favorite Punk/Psychedelic Songs From the Sixties (Arf! Arf! AA-038) is fairly self-explanatory. Erik and friends do "Boris the Spider," "Neanderthal Man" and more trippy old tunes on that one, and a wider selection of esoterica on The Space Negros Dig Archaeology (Arf! Arf! AA-035) Easily the most demented of the lot, though, is Into Outer Space with LUCIA PAMELA (Arf! Arf! AA-037), an album of lovably naive, damnably infectious little songs originally recorded as a vanity release (i.e. one paid for by the artist) circa 1969. File this next to your Shaggs albums - "Walking On the Moon" and Lucia's other songs have that same magic. (Arf! Arf! Records, PO Box 465, Middleborough, MA 02346).
While we're on the mail trail, l was most surprised and delighted to discover recently that the remarkably sophisticated and often magical childrens' albums produced in the late 1950s and 1960s by JIM COPP AND ED BROWN are still available on cassette (some of them on vinyl as well). Write for their catalog and relive some youthful delights, or let your own kids enjoy "Mrs. Goggins and the Gorilla" and the rest of these trippy tales (Playhouse Records, PO Box 36061, Los Angeles, CA 90036).
ROMANOVSKY & PHILLIPS stir a healthy dose of humor into their mix of tragic reflections, angry protests and tender moments (sometimes all of these in the same song) as they sing about gay life in America. They have five CD's so far. (Fresh Fruit Records, 369 Montezuma, #309, Santa Fe, NM 87501).
SPOKEN WORD DEPT.: KEN NORDINE has made his living for the past 40 years or so by lending his deep, deep voice to thousands of radio and TV commercials. Starting in 1957, that voice also showed up occasionally in another context: recordings of odd little spoken-word pieces, short stories and observations about himself and other people having curious experiences, read with sparse, jazz-flavored musical backgrounds. Marketed as "Word Jazz," Nordine's albums never made the sales charts but attracted a cult of loyal admirers. Now Rhino has given us The Best of Word Jazz. Vol.1 (Rhino R2 70773). Meanwhile, Nordine has a newly-recorded collection of similar pieces, not quite as humorous as before but with some very nice music by Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and friends, and a cameo by Tom Waits. Devout Catalyst is Grateful Dead Records GCDC 40152.
I've also picked up a couple of interesting albums featuring younger performers telling stories with music, reflecting (we assume) Nordine's influence while adding innovative touches of their own. Ponderous, an album by the Seattle group 2NU (Atlantic 82229-2) is a bit uneven, and sometimes banal, but the best tracks are spellbinding audio excursions into modern-day twilight zones. "This Is Ponderous" was a Top 40 hit single in 1991. Canadian artist MERYN CADELL's wry "The Sweater" also got quite a bit of airplay. Her album Angel Food For Thought (Sire/Reprise 9-26877-2) has quite a few more pithy spoken-word pieces (of varying degrees of seriousness) alternating with songs (relatively conventional but nicely sung).
Just out at presstime: a nice-looking multi-CD set of GEORGE CARLIN classics from the early 1970s. Happy listening!
PLUS...FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY...Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes No. 1...a special CD (or cassette if you prefer) of MAD MUSIC and CRAZY COMEDY including Bobby (Boris) Pickett's "It's Alive" (available nowhere else) plus "The Smallest Thing Known to Man," "Moose In My House," "Booger On My Beer Mug," "My Dog Ate Nolan Ryan" and 21 more -- over 70 minutes of Demented Entertainment...NOT SOLD IN ANY STORE! Use the handy order blank on Page 8.
** Call other stations. In some areas we have simply changed our station affiliation.
** Get a bunch of friends, and whoever else you run into at school, work, or wherever, to sign a petition. 'WE WANT TO HEAR THE DR. DEMENTO SHOW EVERY WEEKEND!" Get hundreds of signatures (or as many as you can) and send 'em to Dr. Demento, PO Box 884, Culver City, CA 90232. Impressive petitions have been known to greatly influence the local radio executives who decide where and when shows like ours get on the air.
Thanks so much for your support!
DANCIN' FOOL - Frank Zappa
STAR TREKKIN' - The Firm
TIME WARP - Rocky Horror Picture Show
MASOCHISM TANGO - Tom Lehrer
THE HOMECOMING QUEEN'S GOT A GUN - Julie Brown
THE BALLAD OF IRVING - Frank Gallop
THE BATTLE OF KOOKAMUNGA - Home & Jethro
KING TUT - Steve Martin
DER FUEHRER'S FACE - Spike Jones
FISH HEADS - Barnes & Barnes
POISONING PIGEONS IN THE PARK - Tom Lehrer
SAHRA CYNTHIA SYLVIA STOUT WOULD NOT TAKE THE GARBAGE OUT - Shel Silverstein
THE COCKROACH THAT ATE CINCINNATI - Rose & The Arrangement
SURFIN' BIRD - The Trashmen
PENCIL NECK GEEK - Freddie Blassie
TI KWAN LEEP/BOOT TO THE HEAD - The Frantics
EXISTENTIAL BLUES - Tom "T-Bone" Stankus
THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA-HAAA! - Napoleon XIV
THE GREATEST NOVELTY VIDEOS OF ALL TIME
(hosted by Dr. Demento himself)
FISH HEADS - Barnes & Barnes
COCKTAILS FOR TWO - Spike Jones
THE HOMECOMING QUEEN'S GOT A GUN - Julie Brown
GIRLS AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT TROUBLE - D.J. Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince
MINNIE THE MOOCHER - Cab Calloway
JACK, YOU'RE DEAD - Louis Jordan
SARAH JACKMAN - Allan Sherman
I LOST ON JEOPARDY - "Weird Al" Yankovic
YOUR FEET'S TOO BIG - Fats Waller
ELVIS IS EVERYWHERE - Mojo Nixon
THE PURPLE PEOPLE EATER - Sheb Wooley
WET DREAM - Kip Addotta
VHS - $19.98
* Sorry, the CD/tape offered with the MEMBERSHIP is not for sale
separately, for copyright reasons.
* We have a very limited number of copies of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and Christmas sets on VINYL; write for details.