Dementia On The Road
I was invited there to present an award on a CBC-TV special, The CASBY Awards. This is an annual music awards show, something like the People's Choice awards in the U.S.A.; the title is an acronym for Canadian Artists Selected By You. While in Toronto I also did a special live radio show from the CN Tower (the world's largest free-standing structure) with guests including Dave Thomas (aka Doug McKenzie of the Great White North) and did a little promotion for my Rhino albums (which are available in Canada as imports).
The CASBY Awards were originated five years ago by radio station CFNY (102.1 FM) which also happens to be the station that carries the Dr. Demento Show in Toronto. Strictly a local presentation at first, the show quickly blossomed into one of the major national events of the Canadian pop music scene. The co-hosts this year were Paul Shaffer (of Late Night With David Letterman fame) and Carole Pope (one of Canada's best known rock vocalists, formerly with the group Rough Trade). Performers included Boys Don't Cry (who did their novelty hit "I Wanna Be a Cowboy"), General Public and Parachute Club.
The show was presented in front of a live audience at an outdoor ampitheatre located at Canada's Wonderland, a large amusement park near Toronto. We almost had a last-minute cancellation -- we had just started the dress rehearsal when the Toronto area was hit with one of the most severe thunderstorms in memory. Nearly three inches of rain fell in a one-hour period. The open-sided canvas tent covering part of the seating area sprung a large leak, drenching the TV camera and other sensitive equipment, and cutting off power. The rehearsal was scrubbed, but the show still went very smoothly despite another thunderstorm (thankfully not as heavy as the first) which struck at showtime. All the lightning and thunder made for a truly electric afternoon and evening!
Toronto's best-known landmark, the CN Tower, was built by the Canadian National Railways, and stands at the edge of the downtown area. At 1,821 feet it is taller than either the World Trade Center or the Sears Tower. At the 1,100-foot level is a rotating restaurant/bar, a souvenir shop and the CFNY/Technics Showcase Studio, where I did a live show on Sunday, August 17. Dave Thomas came along to talk about his early days as a comedian, his impending move to Los Angeles (he'll keep his Toronto house too) and some of his favorite records; he brought a Peter Sellers gem from his father's collection. Also dropping by were Ron Rubin, an excellent Toronto comedian who does amazing sound effects with his voice and microphone, and Nash the Slash, a local musician who performs half-covered with bandages, and has done some startling, highly original remakes of Sixties rock favorites. He, too, brought some of his favorite demented discs.
It was a smashing weekend. A tip of my tophat to David Marsden, Live Earl Jive, Ted Woloshyn and everyone at CFNY...to Jeff Volter of Trend Records (Rhino's distributor in Canada) and last-but-by-no-means-least John Rourke, the affable, capable head of Westwood One Canada, who squired me to Toronto's very best places, including the ball park. Hope to see all my Canadian friends again real soon!
Greetings once again from Dementia! I've had a busy August with an exciting trip to Toronto (see separate story)....other than that I spent my summer enjoying the California sunshine, interviewing some exciting guests on the show, and spinning some great new Demented Discs on the air.
The Frantics joined us in July for a wild and witty interview -- all four of those crazy clowns from Canada who have been amusing and amazing us for a year or so with "Last Will and Temperament (with a boot to the head)," "Human Race" and other prime sketches originally done on their long-running CBC Radio Show (and on a superb album thus far only available in Canada). They're on television now, with a Showtime cable series that's part Monty Python, part Laugh-In and four parts insanity (the four parts being named Paul Chato, Rick Green, Dan Redican and Peter Wildman).
The next man to share our microphone was Howie Mandel, that very versatile star of films (A Fine Mess, just released), television (an HBO special, St. Elsewhere, lots of Tonight Shows, and an NBC special called Welcome To the Fun Zone with your good Doctor a couple years ago) and now records (Fits Like a Glove, recorded live during Howie's last stand-up comedy tour). Howie's always been know as a highly visual comedian, and I wondered how he'd ever make a record, but he really pulls it off well. Most of the record consists of impromptu exchanges with members of the audience. Mr. Mandel has a mind like lightning, and some of the audience members are not too slow either. The album also includes a song, "I Do the Watusi," that's made our Funny Five a few times. Howie was very much "on a roll" as the comedians say, as he told us about making the album, making movies (he lost his front teeth in the process of making a film about a boy raised by dogs to be released in early 1987) and about his own favorite demented discs from the past (he chose "The Battle of Kookamunga" by Homer and Jethro, and the theme from The Jetsons).
The very next week we had an audience with Father Guido Sarducci, whose new comedy album Breakfast in Heaven was recorded live at Notre Dame University. Father Sarducci, the gossip columnist for the Vatican's official newspaper (you might remember him from Saturday Night Live too) filled us in on all the latest churchly happenings, and entertained us with his wacky but wise observations of the world around us. (I especially liked his account of the Missing Commandments, the ones that were lost when Moses dropped and broke one of the stone tablets. It's on the LP). As with Howie, we let Father Guido pick out some of his favorite old records to play, and he turned out to be quite a rhythm & blues fan, spinning the Medallions' classic "Buick 59" (recorded in 1955) and "Rubber Biscuit" by his old friends the Blues Brothers.
Those R&B tunes were a bit of a preview of our next guest, John Javna, whose Doo-Wop Sing-Along Songbook has just been published. John showed us how to identify and actually sing (well, I tried!) the various parts to all those wonderful R&B harmony hits of the late 50s and early 60s ("Mr. Bassman," "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," "Duke of Earl," "Get a Job" and more).
In August we had something new -- a real live six-piece brass band right in our studio under the Smogberry Trees. The Klezmorim, who play a form of music brought over from Eastern Europe by Jewish immigrant musicians around the turn of the century, demonstrated how this klezmer music was a considerable influence on jazz, pop music, and "Demented" artists such as Spike Jones. They have two albums on Flying Fish Records.
We also had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Eddie Maxwell, who wrote in 1947 the lyrics to what became my theme song, "Pico and Sepulveda" (about a street corner in Los Angeles; he told us the whole story) and also wrote for and sang with Spike Jones in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
As I mentioned we've had some fine new records to play. In addition to the new LPs by Howie Mandel and Father Guido Sarducci, we've enjoyed the first new album in several years by Bill Cosby. Mirroring the theme of his phenomenal TV show, it's mostly about raising kids (the title is Those Of You With Or Without Children, You'll Understand). He does tell a few tales on this album he probably couldn't tell on network TV.
An import worth noting (and well worth searching for) is Comic Relief Presents Utterly Utterly Live at the Shaftesbury Theatre (WEA WX 51). There's a sketch written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman (of Monty Python) and performed by Stephen Fry, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (who do a fine job of it), and another one about fatal beatings at a British prep school that's funny as only British comedy can be. There's also music by Howard Jones, Kate Bush and Cliff Richard among others. This album was made to support the British Comic Relief campaign to feed refugees in Africa, a separate project from the American Comic Relief effort that recently produced a fine special for cable TV.
On the parody front, Bobby Jimmy & the Critters (whose "Big Butt" we still get many calls for) has a hot one with "Roaches", based on "Rumors" by Timex Social Club. Intriguingly, both "Roaches" and "Rumors" are distributed by the same small independent record company. Meanwhile, "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" has oventaken "Rock Me Amadeus" as the most often-parodied song of 1986, though "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" by Mike and Bud (based on "Amadeus") is still the most-requested parody, and has a good chance to wind up as the most requested Demented Disc of the year.
And three splendid albums arrived just at press time -- Ray Stevens' Surely You Joust (MCA), George Carlin's Playin' With Your Head (Eardrum/Atlantic) and Barnes & Barnes' Sicks (Rhino -- highly recommended for very wide open minds).
Last time I talked about some of the different types of stores where unusual records can be found.
There is another way to collect rare records that many have found to be quite fruitful, and that is by mail.
All kinds of records can be ordered through the mail. This includes older, out-of-print records as well as new records. I'll deal with the latter first.
There is no one mail-order source that really specializes in new comedy/novelty material such as you hear on the Dr. Demento Show...with the exception of Rhino Records, which makes all the releases in its own catalog available by mail, direct from the company. (Send 50c to Rhino, 1201 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 for their "Sears & Rhinobuck Catalogue.")
One retail store that handles mail orders nicely, and has a decent selection of in-print comedy albums, is Rare Records, 417 E. Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205.
In case your taste runs (like mine) to the roots of rock 'n' roll, I must mention Down Home Music Inc. at 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530. They don't handle comedy per se, but their stock of blues, folk, country, and early rock 'n' roll (up to the mid-1960s) is probably the world's most complete, and they have great mail order service. You can phone them at (415) 525-1494. Again, what they sell is new records (which does, however, include a stupendous number of reissues of out-of-print material).
Publishers Central Bureau (1 Champion Ave., Avenel, NJ 07001-9987) is a gigantic mail-order operation dealing chiefly in books, but they have a sizeable record department as well. They specialize in manufacturers' overstock at cut prices but have recently started selling new releases as well. Each of their frequent free catalogs usually includes a few hot Demented Discs.
This is by no means a complete listing of stores offering mail-order service on new records. If you should come across some others you have good luck with, do let me know!
And now on to the out-of-print records, the collector's items.
It used to be that only a few nuts like me were interested in old records. What we couldn't find at the local Salvation Army, we bought from other nuts like ourselves who sold them strictly as a spare-time hobby, now and then sending out crudely mimeographed lists of what they had to sell.
Well, these days there are thousands of nuts scrambling for those old (and not-so-old) out-of-print records, and hundreds of dealers, some of whom make a rather good living at it.
And instead of those crudely mimeographed lists, we have Goldmine magazine.
Goldmine, which is available at major newsstands in larger cities or by mail (700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990) has some fairly decent historical articles on music stars from time to time, but what people buy it for is the hundreds of ads for rare records that fill each biweekly issue.
These dealers include well-established stores (and not-so-well-established stores) as well as people who make a living mainly from mail sales and/or from selling records at "conventions" (see this column in our last issue) plus people who just sell a few discs in their spare time (just like the old days). The ads range from fairly spiffy presentations to some that look like those old mimeographed lists reduced to one-quarter size -- you need a strong pair of eyes and a lot of spare time to shop the Goldmine way! Each issue lists (literally) hundreds of thousands of records for sale. Some dealers are specialists, others have a little of everything. Rock music in all forms, from the 50s to the 80s, predominates, but you'll find some of everything (except maybe classical) and here and there some fine novelty singles and comedy LP's (and some not so fine!).
Some dealers sell by "set price" which means they list a price with each record, and whoever sends in their money first for that record gets it. (The dealer may, of course, have more than one copy). Others sell by auction, which means that whoever offers the most money for each record before a certain deadline becomes its new owner.
Many of the records sold through Goldmine are in mint condition or nearly so. Others are not. Some dealers describe the condition accurately; others may fudge a bit -- this is the stickiest part of buying used records by mail. There is a condition code which has been in use for many years; it goes like this:
Goldmine provides a few handy tips for record buyers in each issue, and maintains a customer service department to handle complaints. The magazine costs $1.95 a copy at newsstands, or $35 per year by mail in the US.
There's one Goldmine advertiser in particular whom I've dealt with quite a bit. He's typical of many dealers in that he doesn't have a store, operating strictly by mail order out of a house in the little town of Macomb, Illinois. He spends six months each year traveling throughout the country in search of records, in his case 45 rpm discs exclusively. He sells all kinds of 45s but has an especially good stock of novelty singles, including quite a few heard on my show. His name is Frank Merrill, PO Box 669, Macomb, IL 61455.
I promised last time to get into how much various kinds of records are worth. That's a big enough subject for a whole book (there are several such books, in fact). Alas, I've run out of space, but I promise to make a good start on it next time. Till then, happy hunting!
KXXL-AM BOZEMAN MT KOTR-FM CAMBRIA CA WNPQ-FM CANTON OH WUSC-FM COLUMBIA SC KESM-FM EL DORADO MO WRLS-FM HAYWARD WI WHUC-AM HUDSON NY KWSD-AM MT SHASTA CA WRIK-FM PADUCAH KY KGRO-AM PAMPA TX KRKX-AM REXBURG ID
(Adapted from an article originally written by the Doctor for Waxpaper, a Warner Bros. Records promotional magazine).
I was three years old when my father brought home a copy of Spike Jones' record of "Cocktails for Two." I've been demented ever since.
Spike's been dead for over twenty years now; most of his best records were made before 1950. But the musical slapstick he conceived, orchestrated and performed with a hand-picked crew of virtuoso musicians, comics and singers has proven to be just about as timeless as comedy could ever be.
Spike's stars included Doodles Weaver, the master of malaprops who turned the "William Tell Overture" into a horse race won by a flatfooted nag named Fettlebaum, and "Dance of the Hours" into the Indianapolis 500 (also won by Feetlebaum)...George Rock, star trumpeter who invented the best kiddie voice since Baby Snooks ("All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," "Ya Wanna Buy a Bunny")...Carl Grayson, who sang "Cocktails for Two"...Red Ingle who did "Chloe"...Del Porter, Mickey Katz, Sir Frederic Gas, Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath, the mythical Willie Spicer and many more - plus guests like Mel Blanc, Paul Frees and Homer & Jethro. Spike himself rarely sang; nevertheless, he was always the star, announcing and quarterbacking the show from behind his wonderous array of 200 instruments and noisemakers of every description. During a typical performance Spike fired pistols, blew sirens, tooted auto horns, smashed bottles, blew police whistles, and played the Burpaphone, Poontangaphone, Klaxon, anvil and washboard, plus his most famous specialty: a set of tuned cowbells.
Lindley Armstrong Jones was born in Long Beach, Calif. on December 14, 1911. His father was a railroad man. This, plus Lindley's small stature and spunky personality, let to his lifelong nickname "Spike." He took up drums as a child, practicing "with a pair of chair rungs on the family breadboard under the guidance of the Negro cook at the railroad lunch counter" as one early account tells it. By the time Spike finished high school (where he'd been the drum major) he'd formed his first band (the Five Tacks) and become a professional musician. He paid his dues in the lounges and ballrooms of L.A. and by 1936 was starting to be in demand for live radio shows, recording sessions and movie soundtracks. In the next five years he recorded with Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, and Hoagy Carmichael among others. He can be heard very well on two now-very-rare 78s in particular: "Cielito Lindo" by cabaret star Ella Logan (Brunswick, 1938) and "I Ain't Hep To That Step (But I'll Dig It)" by Fred Astaire (Columbia, 1940).
On most of the others, though, and on his many live radio shows with Bing Crosby, he had to play quietly and discreetly. Though he was making a good living in the studios, he was dying of boredom. Moreover, he wanted to make some use of the fabulous collection of noisemakers and gag instruments he had begun as a hobby in the mid-1930s.
Finding some like-minded fellow musicians in the studios, he began holding weekly jam sessions in 1939 in a building overlooking the Hollywood Cemetery. Eventually the group started playing occasional gigs under a variety of names. They borrowed a recording machine and cut a few crude demo discs (this was before tape recorders were available, of course). Some of these discs found their way to the Hollywood offices of RCA Victor Records, which decided to give Spike and his friends a try.
Having settled on the name "Spike Jones and his City Slickers" (thumbing their nose at the rising popularity of country music) the band cut its first studio records on August 8, 1941. The results, including "Behind Those Swinging Doors" and "Barstool Cowboy From Old Barstow," were released on RCA's Bluebird label, and at 35c the copy sold well enough to warrant further sessions in January, April and July, 1942. However, the City Slickers didn't really take off until the release of "Der Fuehrer's Face" in September, 1942. Spike's recording of this song from a now-rarely-seen Disney cartoon was by far the funniest, biggest-selling comedy disc to be inspired by World War II.
On "Der Fuehrer's Face" the City Slcikers showed their disdain for Adolf Hitler with a raspberry noise called "the bird. " It was one of the first records to use that sound, which was considered rather indecent at the time. That was about as close as Spike ever got (in public, anyway) to vulgarity or to social commentary. His work was always family-oriented. His sharpest satiric barbs were aimed not at elements of society but at pieces of music, especially music which he perceived as being pompous, overdramatic or sentimental. Classical music, which represented 40% of American record sales at that time, came in for a large share of Spike's "musical depreciation."
Spike's satire was always aimed at the music itself, not at the people who made it. That didn't stop Spike's records from arousing controversy. Sam Coslow, composer of "Cocktails for Two," never forgave Spike for desecrating his song, even though the 1944 City Slicker recording far out-sold all "straight" versions. That's the one that begins so softly and sweetly, with harp and choir, and sounds like Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians until a Jones pistol shot sets off two minutes of absolute mayhem. The effect upon an unsuspecting listener is wondorous to behold.
On the other hand, songsmith David Raskin told me a few years ago that he was disappointed when he first heard Spike's 1946 recording of Raskin's hit song "Laura" -- it wasn't wild enough for him! "Laura" was not actually a City Slickers recording, but was made by Spike with a larger band called "Spike Jones and his Other Orchestra" which played in somewhat more dignified fashion. This was one of several attempts Spike made to convince the public (and himself) that he could still play "straight" music. He made his point, but Spike's "Laura" would be forgotten today (as are the other "Other Orchestra" discs) were it not for the welcome return of insanity halfway through the side.
The late 1940s were Spike Jones' glory years. He traveled with his wife, singer Helen Grayco, and an entourage of 40 in two private Pullman railroad cars, drawing sellout crowds from Seattle to Savannah. For two years beginning October 3, 1947, he had a weekly half-hour radio show on CBS, often broadcast live from wherever the troupe was playing. Spike and the Slickers were featured in several movies, still occasionlly shown on TV. Spike did most of his best records in the 1940s, including "Hawaiian War Chant," "The Glow Worm," "Love In Bloom," "My Old Flame," and "None But the Lonely Heart" in addition to the Doodles Weaver and George Rock hits mentioned earlier.
It should have gone on forever. However, the 1950s were as frustrating for Spike as the 1940s had been fabulous. Despite all exceptions, his act never really clicked on TV. He was featured in five series, on all three networks, but none lasted more than a few months. His record sales declined, and in 1955 RCA finally let him go. During the last decade of his life he recorded for numerous labels including Warner Bros. trying various approaches, comic and otherwise, with erratic results. He continued performing live, though, with various bands and revues, until shortly before his death from emphysema on May 1, 1965.
If you'd like to know more about Spike, look for Spike Jones and His City Slickers, a book by Jordan Young (with foreword by yours truly) published by Disharmony Books, c/o Moonstone Press, Box 142, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. Price is $14.95 plus $1.50 postage.
THE BEST OF SPIKE JONES (RCA ANL1-1035E).
THE BEST OF SPIKE JONES, VOL. 2 (RCA ANL1-2312E).
DINNER MUSIC FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T VERY HUNGRY
(Goldberg & O'Reily 10010).
THE CRAZIEST SHOW ON EARTH (Goldberg & O'Reily)
The most readily available of Spike's albums is also the finest. Cocktails for Two / William Tell Overture / Chloe / My Old Flame / The Glow Worm / None But the Lonely Heart / Laura / The Man On The Flying Trapeze / You Always Hurt the One You Love / Der Fuehrer's Face / Dance of the Hours / Hawaiian War Chant. One of the truly essential Demented Discs.
More goodies from the 1940s, and some slightly lesser items from the 1950s.
A reissue of Verve MG-4005, released in 1957. The best of Spike's later recordings, showing off his magnificent collection of noisemakers in splendid hi-fi sound.
Highlights from Spike's CBS radio show capture the spirit of the City Slickers performing for live audiences.
THE BEST OF SPIKE JONES (RCA ANL1-1035E).
THE BEST OF SPIKE JONES, VOL. 2 (RCA ANL1-2312E).
DINNER MUSIC FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T VERY HUNGRY
(Goldberg & O'Reily 10010).
THE CRAZIEST SHOW ON EARTH (Goldberg & O'Reily)
Doctor! I'm aching to correspond with a 12-22 female dementite who likes
Weird Al and rap music (in that order).
(aka Grand Master Disaster)
65 Kensington Terrace
Passaic, NJ 07055
Male, Age 18
Help! I've been talking to the walls and they've been
answering me. I'm into
comedy & novelty records but it seems like no one else is, where I live. I
need to correspond with someone soon who likes originality and craziness.
950 N. Hill Blvd.
Layton, UT 84041
Female, Age 19
Write me! Anyone!!
1415 N. 53 Ave. West
Duluth, MN 55807
Male, Age 13
Are you a live dementoid or dementite? If the answer is "yes," I
think we can
be friends. Write soon before I change my mind (or lose it).
415 N. 51 Ave. West
Duluth, MN 55807
Male, Age 13
Die-hard Dementians Unite! If you're weird, that's good. If you're weirder,
that's better! Let me be the judge.
11 Perkins Street
Springfield, MA 01118
Male, Age 16
If you have any thoughts or dreams, and are hoping to fulfill a destiny of
dementia someday, then we've already got a lot in common. What can I say, I
feel like I've known you forever. So why don't you write?
1123 North Tennessee Place
Mason City, IA 50401
Male, Age 22
I Do the Watusi -- Howie Mandel
It's become fairly standard procedure lately for standup comedians to sing one or two songs on an otherwise all-talking album. (See our Trivia Quiz this issue). Some of them have presented themselves at times as more or less serious musicians and/or singers (Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy for instance) while others cleverly play their musical ineptitude for a laugh (Emo Philips).
Howie Mandel is somewhere in between. While one might say his vocal on "I Do the Watusi" is more shouting than singing, it fits right in with the music. Moreover, Howie and his producer Jonathan Krane worked hard to get the music just right, hiring the best musicians and backup singers around and bringing in mixmaster supreme "Jellybean" Benitez to perfect the sound. Whatever it is, "Watusi" is wonderful.
Why the Watusi (a dance craze of the early 1960s)? "I wanted to do the Watusi because I didn't know how to do the Hully Gully," Howie told me in our recent interview. "I was just sitting there...there was smoke...somebody said 'Something's gonna burst, something's gonna burst'...and I burst into song." "I Do the Watusi" is on Howie's LP Fits Like a Glove (Warner Bros.); a little diligent record hunting might turn up the 7" single (with an instrumental version on the flip) or the promo 12" with an extended dance mix.
Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing -- Teevee Toons Master Mix
A best-seller on the 12" singles racks as well as a hot item on our Request Line, "Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing" contains dozens of authentic voices from 1950s and 1960s television shows, mixed to a dance music track which itself contains many bits from vintage TV theme songs.
"Jane" was derived from one of the most remarkable albums released during the past year, Television's Greatest Hits. This is a double album containing no less than 65 theme songs from what many would call the Golden Age of Television. If any record album could be said to fulfill a need, it would be this one. I can't think of any music that is so well remembered, yet so hard to find on records, as TV theme music. Steve Gottlieb, who assembled the album for his own Teevee Toons record label, managed to track down some amazing things, but even he had to resort to hiring musicians and singers to re-record some of the most elusive themes. (He did an excellent job. Except for the stereo sound, few will know the difference).
The 12" single also contains the most-requested theme song from the album, The Jetsons, in its entirety. A second volume of Television's Greatest Hits is scheduled to be released soon.
Polka Dot Undies -- Bowser & Blue
"In 1979 George Bowser had a gig -- and Ricky Blue had a P.A. system." That, according to their bio, is how Bowser & Blue got together. Since then, this duo from Montreal, Canada, has performed 60's oldies, blues, reggae and folk in many parts of Canada and the U.S.A. -- but in the past few years they've become best known for their "naughty parodies, rude songs...bedroom ballads and toilet humour." Thoroughly demented songs like "Keith Richards' Blood," "It Still Smells Like Elvis" (about one of the late King's famous souvenir scarves), "No Balls At All" and "Polka Dot Undies" alternate with more orthodox but still slightly bent pop-rock tunes on Bowser & Blue's debut album.
Montreal remains home base for the duo, a place "where half the audience doesn't understand what we say, and the other half doesn't give a snit." They recorded the album there and in Santa Monica, Calif., with various musicians including three members of Katrina & the Waves. The album (on Justin Time Records) has not yet been released in the U.S., but is more than worth searching for if you run across someplace with a lot of odd imports.
We've all heard about the comedian whose lifelong ambition was to play Hamlet...now we'll test your D.Q. (that's Dementia Quotient -- something like Intelligence Quotient or I.Q.) about some comedians who have tried their hand (their larynx, actually) at singing a song or two.
Comedians Songs 1. Lenny Bruce A. "Framed" 2. Lord Buckley B. "His Majesty the Policeman" 3. Cheech & Chong C. "Hooray for Capt. Spalding" 4. Bill Cosby D. "I Do the Watusi" 5. Rodney Dangerfield E. "Twist and Shout" 6. Bob & Doug McKenzie F. "Beatles Medley" 7. Howie Mandel G. "Downtown Downers Grove" 8. Steve Martin H. "My Werewolf Mama" 9. Groucho Marx J. "Little Old Man" 10. Eddie Murphy K. "King Tut" 11. Emo Phillips L. "Makin' Whoopee" 12. Paul Rodriguez M. "Twelve Days of Christmas" 13. Father Guido Sarducci N. "Rachel Dear" 14. Three Stooges P. "Boogie In Your Butt" 15. Steven Wright Q. "Alphabet Song"
1. Allan Sherman's "Grow Mrs. ____"
6. ____ Lehrer
9. A Chinese religion
10."They're Coming To Take Me Away ____" (Napolean XIV)
11. Not "a near"
13. Sade's hit song "Sweetest ____"
15. Steve Martin was born in this Texas town
17. Opposite of a few
20. This ____ Your Life
21. "____ Know My Name" (Beatles)
22. "____ ____ Is Larry" (Wild Man Fischer); 2 wds.
24. "Honeymooners ____" (Joe Piscopo & Eddie Murphy)
25. Hawaiian island near Oahu
26. Tennessee (abbrev.)
27. What Dave did to scatter poor Rover
29. Vide game song: "____ Fever"
31. Comedian Crosby's first name
33. Cheech & Chong's "Get Out Of My ____"
34. ____ Bell sang "Shaving Cream"
36. Comedian who did the songs "Normal" and "Men"
41. Howie Mandel's "I ____ The Watusi"
42. ____ Unit Zappa
43. Brigham Young University (abbrev.)
1. "Weird Al" Yankovic won this award for "Eat It"
2. "Let's Talk ____ To The Animals" (Gilda Radner)
3. "Freakin' ____ The Freakers Ball" (Shel Silverstein or Dr. Hook)
4. An Egyptian sun god
5. A famous clown with red hair & a nose to match
6. The way some British folks say goodbye
7. Exclamation of surprise
8. Lehrer's "____ Tango"
10. Who sings "I Do The Watusi"
14. Weird Al's song "That ____ Could Dance"
16. TV soap "____ The World Turns"
18. The main heart artery
19. A subtle variation or expression (Fr.)
23. Not old
27. Felix Figueroa's real name, Freddy ____
29. High school event of the year, the Sr. ____
30. "____ A Christmas Tree" (Wild Man Fischer & Dr. Demento)
32. ____ Newman sings "Short People"
34. Bacon, lettuce, tomato (abbrev.)
35. Roger Miller's "____ Can't Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd"
37. "I ____ The Walrus" (Beatles)
38. Roll over (abbrev.)
39. Turn over (abbrev.)
40. "I'm ____ Own Grandpa (Lonzo & Oscar)
Dear Doctor: Have you made any other albums besides your
six-record set on Rhino?
-- Randall Levitz, Minneapolis, MN
Dear Randall: Many listeners have asked this question, and the answer is yes. Though the Rhino set Dr. Demento Presents The Greatest Novelty Records Of All Time contains the largest and most concentrated selection of favorites from the show, there is some great stuff on each of my three previous albums that isn't on the six-record Rhino set.
My first album was Dr. Demento's Delights, released in 1975 on Warner Bros. Records (number BS-2855).
Currently available on LP only, selections include Doodles Weaver's demolition of "Eleanor Rigby," Spike Jones' "Ya Wanna Buy a Bunny," Harry "The Hipster" Gibson's 1944 collector's item "Who Put The Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine," and two songs which were extremely popular on our request lines in the 1970s, "Boobs A Lot" by the Holy Modal Rounders and "Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent" by Jef Jaisun.
Album number two was my first project for Rhino, released in 1980. The title: Dr. Demento's Dementia Royale (Rhino RNLP 010). (It was one of a series of comedy anthologies released in the early days of Rhino, each with the word "royale" in the title). It contains several oft-requested gems of Dementia not available elsewhere: "Stardrek" by Bobby Pickett and Peter Ferrara, "Making Love in a Subaru" by Damaskas, "Religion and Politics" by Scott Beach, "Punk Polka" by the Toons, and two items by Barnes & Barnes: "Three Drunk Newts" and "I Gotta Get a Fake I.D." The latter also features my own singing (??), as does the album-closing rendition of "Shaving Cream."
Finally we have Demento's Mementos, released in 1982 on the Eccentric label, distributed by Jem. (This is the only Eccentric record ever released; Jem, however, is one of the country's largest distributors of independent releases).
Demento's Mementos was released to commemorate a Great Novelty Song Contest held in 1982, and nine of the finalists are included, among them "I Get Weird," "My Wife Left Town With a Banana," "Swedish Western" and "My Name Is Not Merv Griffin." Also featured on this album: "I Wanna Kiss Her (but she won't let me)" by Tim Cavanagh, "Harry's Jockstrap" by Dickie Goodman, "The Alphabet Song" by the Three Stooges "The Rodeo Song" (in a PG-rated version) by Showdown, and another vocal from yours truly, "Doctor of Dementia."
All three of these albums may be found in the COMEDY section of many larger record stores, or -- at last! -- through the Demento Society by mail (see enclosed flyer).
If you have a question you would like to ask Dr. Demento in this column, write to: "Ask The Doctor," The Demento Society News, P.O. Box 884, Culver City, CA 90230.
Executive Dementor..............The Doc
Creative Director.......Kristine Weaver
Bureau Chief..................Jay Levey
Production Assistant.........Sue Hansen
Public Affairs.............Chris Nadler
Mover & Shaker. ......Brian Coffman
Graphic Designer.......Ralph Bland, Jr.
Ace Photographer...........Robert Young
2 - B. Lord Buckley, a contemporary of Bruce's who also died far too soon, left behind some timeless comic monologues and also a little song or two. "His Majesty the Policeman" is on the album Bad Rapping of the Marquis de Sade (available as an import on the Demon Verbals label).
3 - A. Cheech & Chong were both professional musicians before forming their comedy duo, and they sing (and play) often on their records and in their films. "Framed," originally a 1954 R&B hit by The Robins, as revived by C&C on their album Sleeping Beauty.
4 - J. "Little Old Man" (a rewrite of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight") was a Top Five hit for Bill Cosby in 1967. Cosby followed it up with many more vocals including an album called Disco Bill (1977) but never had another major hit as a singer.
5 - E. Rodney Dangerfield warbles the Isley Brothers/Beatles rock standard "Twist and Shout" in his hit movie Back to School. Of course he's best known as a vocalist for "Rappin' Rodney" but that song title would be a giveaway for this quiz!
6 - M. Though Bob & Doug McKenzie let Geddy Lee do the singing on their famous "Take Off," they do a creditable (and funny) job on that Yuletide chestnut "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
7 - D. That was easy, especially if you read the Funny Five Favorites column before you did this quiz!
8 - K. Steve Martin, a skillful five-string banjo player in the Appalachian style, included a whole LP side of old-timey tunes on his album The Steve Martin Brothers, and strums the banjo periodically on his first album Let's Get Small, but his best-known song by far is "King Tut," recorded (with a studio rock group) on the Album A Wild and Crazy Guy.
9 - C. Singing was not perhaps the greatest of Groucho Marx's talents, but he sang most entertainingly in most of the Marx Brothers films. "Hooray for Capt. Spalding," originally sung in Animal Crackers (1930), is on the 1940s volume of Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time.
10 - P. Eddie Murphy's recent all-vocal, non-comedy LP How Could It Be got mixed reviews, but the public loved it, especially "Party All the Time." Of course, Eddie was no stranger to singing; "Boogie In Your Butt" (and "Enough Is Enough") were on his very first album, released in 1982.
11 - G. Somewhere in his childhood, Emo Philips must have had to endure the unspeakable torture of piano lessons. All that pain and suffering is laid bare in his heartfelt hymn to his hometown, "Downtown Downers Grove."
12 - L. "Makin' Whoopee," written in 1928, was the theme song of Broadway and Hollywood superstar Eddie Cantor. Eddie's several recorded versions will always be definitive, but Paul Rodriguez gives the song some new twists on his new LP You're In America Now, Speak Spanish.
13 - F. Father Guido Sarducci was recently a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, and we got to hear his delightful Bicentennial song "200 Candles" (of which only 200 copies were pressed). More readily available is his funny "Beatles Medley" on his latest LP, Breakfast in Heaven.
14 - Q. The Three Stooges recorded several albums for the childrens' market in the latter part of their career, but they'll always be remembered for "The Alphabet Song," first featured in their film Violent is the Word for Curly (1938).
15 - N. Like Emo Philips, Steven Wright makes no claims to musical prowess, but his song "Rachel Dear" sung to his own guitar accompaniment is one of the highlights of his act and his album I Have a Pony.
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