As our last issue went to press, I was heading for Phoenix and the big "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" party held on the Sunday evening before Labor Day.
I can now report that a dandy demented time was had by all, and a nice piece of change was raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The party, held at a club called After the Goldrush located near the Arizona State campus, featured a four-hour live Dr. Demento Show broadcast on station KZZP (whose DJ's made the record of "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" that finished #1 on the 1986 Funny 25 -- see separate story). Over a thousand people whooped, hollered and generally got demented. I wish everyone everywhere could have heard it! The evening before, DJ Mike Elliott and I broadcasted live from the rumble seat of Arizona's longest limo as we cruised Phoenix' favorite party places. I must have signed enough autographs to wallpaper half the state. Thanks for a wonderful weekend, Mike, Bud, Mark and everyone at KZZP!
Back in California, on Sept. 13 I participated in the second annual Spike Jones Tribute for the benefit of the Salvation Army. Joe Siracusa, Spike's drummer during his glory years in the 1940s, organized the gala affair. Performers included Mr. Earl Bennett, who portrayed "Sir Frederic Gas" in the City Slickers, and a grand group of musicians playing Spike's original instruments and arrangements. I even got to toot a few horns myself.
Sept. 24 found me in New York City taping intros for some weird and wacky movies which were shown in October (especially Halloween week) on cable TV's Movie Channel. For the Halloween horror movies I was on stage with a coffin, a real skeleton, and lots of smoke machines. Other intros found me surrounded by a fine collection of old records and sound equipment -- I felt right at home!
During the autumn I taped two programs for public radio: Kids America and Castaway's Choice. On Castaway's Choice I was asked to bring along some of my favorite non-Demented recordings. It's another side of Dr. Demento, so to speak. This program will be aired nationally sometime in mid-1987; watch your local listings. Kids America was also a lot of fun, as I answered questions from the radio audience and spun a couple of choice Demented Discs.
Highlights of the Dr. Demento Show included three real red-letter days: Christmas, Halloween and the 20th anniversary of Star Trek. We received a tremendous amount of new Christmas records and tapes in 1986, more than ever before. Some of the best ones arrived too late, but wait till December 1987! We'll have to have two full shows devoted to Christmas and Chanukah next time.
It's always great to hear all the Halloween songs again, of course, from "Monster Mash" to "Mr. Ghost Goes to Town." And for the Star Trek anniversary we had "Stardrek," "Star Trip," "Beam Me Up Scotty" and many more enduring favorites.
There were plenty of new records to play this fall. "Weird Al" Yankovic, our most famous discovery, released his fourth album, Polka Party (Rock 'n Roll) featuring "Living With a Hernia," "Addicted to Spuds" and "Christmas at Ground Zero" in addition to the title cut. Can't believe it's been over ten years since Al made his radio debut on the Dr. Demento Show with "Belvedere Cruisin'."
Another major comedy release was A Night At the Met (Columbia) by Robin Williams. It just might be Robin's best album ever. We could only play small portions on the air due to some pretty lusty vocabulary, but the long segment on sex, pregnancy, childbirth and raising a baby is awesome, and Williams has also managed to come up with some hilarious drug-and-alcohol humor that's still appropriate for today's consciousness on this subject.
Fit To Be Tiled by Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre (Rounder) is another masterpiece, real thinking person's humor with some great music as well. Gamble Rogers tells some droll down-home Southern tales and jokes on Sorry Is As Sorry Does (Flying Fish). The soundtrack for the hit movie Little Shop of Horrors has at least one instant classic, Steve Martin's "The Dentist" (Number One on the Funny Five as I write this). Uncle Bonsai's Boys Want Sex In the Morning (Freckle) and Phil Alvin's album on Warner Bros. provide myriads of musical delights. Try the import racks for Spit In Your Ear, an album of hysterical (if often "very British") bits and songs from the TV show Spitting Image which has had a few airings here. Finally, no demented Trekkie will want to be without Star Trek Comedy, a compilation available on cassette from Vince Emery Productions, 2269 Market St. #321, San Francisco, CA 94114.
"I found some old LP's at a garage sale. (One of them is)
Mule Skinner Blues by The Fendermen -- real old, funky rock 'n' roll
music. Is this worth anything?"
"We found some old 78's in my grandmother's attic. There was
by Caruso with music on only one side -- "O Sole Mio." I
are very valuable. How much can we get for this, and how?"
-- C.J., Des Moines, IA
--V.R., Evanston, IL
"We found some old 78's in my grandmother's attic. There was
by Caruso with music on only one side -- "O Sole Mio." I
are very valuable. How much can we get for this, and how?"
I get letters like this quite frequently. Forgive me if I haven't answered yours yet -- I try to keep up! In the meantime I'll offer a few general attempts to answer that most-asked question about old records -- what are the darned things worth?
Sometimes I want to throw up my hands and just say -- Whatever you can get for them!
Records, you see, are not like stamps or coins. There are stamp and coin dealers everywhere, thousands of them, and each one has ready access to up-to-date information on values based on transactions around the world.
Record collecting is not that well organized (which suits me fine, by the way). There are so many different records out there that very few individual titles are bought and sold often enough for their exact value to be established with any certainty.
In recent years, various "price guides" for rare records have been published, modelled after those long established for stamps and coins (as well as comic books, beer cans and Coca-Cola knick-knacks). These are, at best, educated guesses. They can give you a rough idea of what is rare and valuable and what isn't, but record prices flucuate so widely from place to place and from time to time that the specific prices they give have little real meaning.
Typical example: "Transfusion" by Nervous Norvus on a Dot 78 RPM disc. One dealer might be glad to get rid of it for $2, while another might hold out for $25, hoping that someone desperate to have copy for his antique jukebox will come along sooner or later.
About the only thing one can say for sure is that a fair and reasonable price for this item lies somewhere in between.
The value of rare records, like that of potatoes, crude oil or Rembrandts, is based on supply and demand. If there aren't many copies of something available, and a lot of people want one, the price goes up. If the supply exceeds the demand, the price goes down.
So, to answer our first sample letter, Mule Skinner Blues by The Fendermen was a Top 5 single in 1960, but few copies of the follow-up LP were made. Nowadays quite a few people who either remember the hit song or are fascinated by this primeval Wisconsin garage band are looking for that album. It was quoted at $200 in a catalog I received the other day.
O Sole Mio by Enrico Caruso sold in the hundreds of thousands when released in 1916, most of them with music on one side only. After the singer's untimely death in 1921, his records became treasured heirlooms. They were saved, everywhere, while millions of potentially more valuable 78's were thrown out. People who want to hear Caruso today generally buy his many LP's. Thus the supply exceeds the demand; Grandma's "O Sole Mio" is, alas worth next to nothing.
Ninety-five percent of all 78 RPM records you see today are worth no more than a dollar or two. True, the values of the very scarce and superior ones sought after by serious collectors can go through the roof, but the value of run-of-the-mill 78s is severely limited by the fact that relatively few people have equipment that can play them, or want to be bothered with their bulk and fragility.
Valuable 78s tend to fall into distinct categories: blues, country music, jazz (mainly from the pre-big band era, 1920-1935), and just about everything made during the years 1931-1934 (the Great Depression -- nobody could afford records) or after 1956 (when 78s were phased out in favor of 45s).
For 45s, the hot categories are 1950s doo-wop, 1950s rockabilly, 1960s "British invasion," 1960s American garage bands, and anything associated with Elvis Presley or The Beatles. With serious 45 collectors, it is of the utmost importance that the records be "originals" pressed at the time of the disc's first release, rather than later on. Many 45s were originally released with picture sleeves, and these are often more valuable than the records that came in them.
For LPs, the big bucks are in: original releases (not reissues) in any of the categories mentioned for 45s, plus 1950s jazz, and movie soundtracks and Broadway shows of any vintage (especially the lesser-known ones). Just about any pre-1967 rock album is worth something if it's in absolutely mint condition, and there's now a very healthy trade in DJ promo copies and other oddities associated with such megastars as Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie.
For all kinds of records, condition is of paramount importance. A record showing even slight signs of use (wear and scratches) may be worth less than half of what a mint copy of the same disc would bring.
You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned comedy and novelty records. For years these were considered nearly worthless. Thanks to the influence, perhaps, of a certain radio show, people are beginning to recognize their value, but original discs by Spike Jones on RCA Victor or Allan Sherman on Warner Bros. will still set you back far less than an original Elvis Presley Sun or an early Springsteen promo copy. So there's still hope for Dementites and Dementoids looking to expand their collections. (Among the more sought-after Demented Discs are Napoleon XIV's original album on Warner Bros., quoted at $150 before the recent Rhino reissue; Jackie Gleason's Capitol 10" LP And Awaaaaay We Go!, Songs Our Mommy Taught Us by Bob McFadden & Dor, and the early Verve albums by Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. I'd guesstimate these in the $35-$40 range for nice (VG+) copies).
The best price guide available today is American Premium Record Guide by L.R. Docks (Books Americana, c/o Crown Publishers, Florence, AL 35630 - $14.95). It only goes up to 1965, but it has thousands of listings, hundreds of photos of record labels, and some pretty sound advice on collecting. The series of price guides published by O'Sullivan-Woodside included several books covering more recent records, but the whole series is apparently no longer available. Jerry Osborne, who compiled several of these guides, has a couple of new books out (Osborne Enterprises, Ltd. -- P.O. Box 28312, Tempe, AZ 85252).
Here are two more good sources for unusual LP's through the mail.
ROUNDUP RECORDS, P.O. Box 154, North Cambridge, MA 02140 has a large selection of new LP's including many imports and US independent labels hard to find elsewhere.
A-1 RECORD FINDERS, P.O. Box 75071, Los Angeles, CA 90075 is a used-record dealer with an immense stock of rare stuff including a very impressive selection of comedy. If they don't have it, they'll launch a nationwide search. They're not cheap, but if you're looking for something really elusive, give 'em a call at 213-RECORDS.
(Thanks to Robert Bischoff, Deerfield, IL).
WPYX-FM ALBANY NY WSGY-FM ALBANY NY KKBR-FM ALBUQUERQUE NM KXMK-FM ARIZONA CITY AZ KDRS-FM BEMIDJI MN WIUS-FM BLOOMINGTON IN KXXL-AM BOZEMAN MT KBBS-AM BUFFALO WY KQIS-FM CLARINDA IA WHK-AM CLEVELAND OH WJMU-FM DECATUR IL WLHQ-FM DOTHAN AL KFFB-FM FAIRFIELD AR KFWC-AM FORISTELL MO KNMC-FM HAVRE MT WHUC-AM HUDSON NY KKOW-FM JOPLIN MO KCRF-FM LINCOLN CITY OR KXKK-FM LORDSBURG NM WLRS-FM LOUISVILLE KY WKXL-FM MANCHESTER NH KADI-FM MAUI HI KBOY-FM MEDFORD OR WGSF-AM MEMPHIS TN KFIV-FM MODESTO CA WWPZ-AM NW MICHIGAN MI WSSB-FM ORANGEBURG SC WPTS-AM PITTSBURGH PA KACH-AM PRESTON ID WRMT-AM ROCKY MOUNT NC KLZZ-AM SAN DIEGO CA KLZZ-FM SAN DIEGO CA WHMP-FM SPRINGFIELD MA WSIE-FM ST. LOUIS MO WMHD-FM TERRE HAUTE IN KVIC-FM VICTORIA TX WAMM-AM WOODSTOCK VA...And on February 15th The Dr. Demento Show was welcomed to KLSX-FM in Los Angeles.
It might seem odd to some people that Monty Python is one of the mainstays of the Dr. Demento radio show, since so much of its humor is visual. The group is undeniably best known for its five feature films and 45 oft-rerun half-hour BBC-TV shows...but Monty Python is so multi-dimensional in its talents, that even if it had never made any of those films and TV shows, and was known only by its record albums, it would still have to be regarded as the greatest comedy sketch group to work in English in recent years.
The group has won a huge following in the USA despite the fact that much of its humor consists of satiric jibes at British people, places and phenomena that are all but unknown in America.
Monty Python was born in 1969 when the BBC decided to launch a new comedy series to replace a low-rated Sunday evening religious program. The cast consisted of five Britons, each of whom had considerable writing and performing experience on previous TV comedy shows, and an American graphic artist.
The five Britishers had much in common. They had each attended one of the highly prestigious major British universities that are the rough equivalent of America's Ivy League. Each had developed his writing and performing skills by participating in student comedy revues. John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle were from Cambridge: Terry Jones and Michael Palin from Oxford. None were from wealthy families, but all except Idle went to "public" schools (the rough equivalent of American "prep" schools), often at considerable sacrifice to their parents. All (again excepting Idle) were huge fans of the Goon Show, the legendary early 1950s BBC radio program featuring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. All were in their mid-to-late twenties when Monty Python was formed; they are exact contemporaries of the Beatles.
Terry Gilliam, the lone American, is of the same generation. Born in Minneapolis and raised in Los Angeles where he attended Occidental College, Gilliam was a talented graphic artist and illustrator who eventually followed his girlfriend to London and gradually convinced the BBC that television had use for his talents. He was responsible for much of the look of Monty Python, especially the bridges between sketches. He also appeared on camera from time to time, and has always been considered a full member of the group, equal to the others.
John Cleese, born in 1939, was the son of an insurance salesman who changed the family name from Cheese. A tall, thin, awkward boy, he soon realized he had the ability to make people laugh with "subversive comments." He wrote comedy skits for school assemblies, and at Cambridge eventually made it into the exclusive Footlights Club, which presented a revue each year for the students' entertainment. The 1963 revue, A Clump of Plinths, was so popular that it was booked into a major London theatre under the catchier title Cambridge Circus. It went from there to a tour of New Zealand and a brief Off-Broadway run in New York, where Cleese met Terry Gilliam, then art director for a humor magazine called Help! Gilliam hired him, for $15, to appear in a photographic humor feature about a man in love with a Barbie doll.
Also in the Cambridge Circus cast was Graham Chapman. Born during a Nazi air raid in 1941, he was the son of a Leicester policeman. After extensive acting experience in school, he too became a member of Cambridge's Footlights Club where he began his long writing partnership with Cleese. His first career choice, however, was medicine. He had already transferred from Cambridge to medical school when he was asked to replace another performer in Circus -- which he did while continuing his medical education. He actually obtained his M.D. before casting his lot with show business and going to London to write and perform with Cleese and, eventually, the other Pythons.
Eric Idle was born in 1943. His father was killed in an accident when he was two years old. He spent twelve years at what he calls a "semi-orphanage," but became a good enough student to earn admission to Cambridge. After Cleese's and Chapman's departure; he became president of the Footlights Club, where he broke tradition by insisting that women be included in the annual revues. A good singer and fine songwriter, he also made sure more music was included. After graduating he too went on to London, where he got to know the other future Pythons while writing for various TV shows, and also did a little stage and TV acting. On a children's TV program called Do Not Adjust Your Set (1968-69) which also picked up a large cult following of young adults, Idle worked with the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band and got to know its singer-guitarist Neil Innes; Idle and Innes would go on to become a productive team in the 1970s.
Oxford University had nothing quite like the Footlights Club, but the remaining two Pythons-to-be nevertheless honed their comic skills nicely there. Terry Jones reached Oxford first; born in 1942, he had grown up in suburban London and had a reputation in school as a gung-ho guy whose enthusiasm for everything from rugby to poetry was contagious -- a fellow who could organize people and get things done, qualities that later served Monty Python very well. At Oxford he was much involved in student dramatics, serious as well as comic.
Michael Palin, youngest of the Pythons, was born in Sheffield in 1943, son of an industrial engineer. His family was slightly more prosperous than the others. Another theatre enthusiast, he was introduced to Jones shortly after his arrival at Oxford, and the two of them soon began the writing partnership that would continue in London after graduation, and on through the Python years.
There are different stories about just how our six heroes actually came together to do a BBC-TV show that was variously referred to as Owl-Stretching Time, Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus and Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot before the name Monty Python's Flying Circus was decided upon. In any case, the first telecast was October 5, 1969.
As is often the case in British TV, Monty Python's Flying Circus was first conceived of as a very limited series, thirteen weekly programs only. The airtime was changed several times, and in the midst of the series there was a three-week hiatus. Despite all that, ratings improved considerably as the series progressed.
The BBC was impressed enough to release a souvenir record album of the first series' highlights...which is still in print after nearly seventeen years. It's the album with the famous big bare foot on the cover (it's Cupid's foot, borrowed by Terry Gilliam from an old master painting). Among the LP's highlights are "Trade Description Act" (about the candy made from crunchy frogs) "Buying a Bed" (from the salesman who jumps in the fish tank whenever anyone says the word "mattress"), and most of all "Pet Shop" in which customer John Cleese tries to return a dead parrot to pet-shop clerk Michael Palin. (This album was only briefly released in the USA, on the Pye label, but it is still fairly easy to find as an import on the BBC Records label).
A word on how the TV shows were conceived: Unlike most American TV comedy performers, Monty Python has always written all its own material. It was originally written by various members, singly or in pairs: Terry Jones wrote with Michael Palin, John Cleese wrote with Graham Chapman, and Eric Idle wrote on his own. Then the entire group would meet, and it would be the task of Cleese, Palin and Idle respectively to convince all the others that their new stuff was up to snuff. Terry Gilliam would also attend these meetings, but his animation was rarely ready until the very last minute. Once the content of the show was agreed upon, the members were adamant that not a word be changed by anyone else, a policy that got them into some difficulty as time went on.
The Jones-Palin team was fond of writing pieces to be filmed on location, often in strange, bleak and uncomfortable rural and rustic places. The "Cambridge faction" went in more for verbal comedy, with Idle specializing in elaborate wordplay which he performed impeccably. Idle also created most of the music, with a bit of help later on from Neil Innes.
Women's parts were played either by one of the men in drag (this was a Jones specialty) or by long-suffering Carol Cleveland, who was Python's analogue to the Marx Brothers' Margaret Dumont.
All in all, the BBC was sufficiently satisfied with the 1969-70 series to commission a second limited series for the fall of 1970, with a regular air slot and an increased budget. Monty Python's Flying Circus was not quite an institution yet, but it was definitely on a roll.
Next Issue: the rest of the Monty Python story up to now with a discography.
(Sources: my interviews with Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam, 1979-81, and especially George Perry's hard-to-find but excellent paperback authorized biography, Life of Python (1983, Little, Brown & Co.) )
Match the funny records with the people who made them. (If you heard our two-part special on this phenomenon last May and June, this should be a snap!)
Records Artists 1. "No Anchovies Please" A. Van Halen 2. "Big Ten-Inch Record" B. Chuck Berry 3. "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)" C. Styx 4. "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" D. Pink Floyd 5. "My Ding-a-ling" E. The Beatles 6. "Mother's Lament" F. Van Halen (again) 7. "Boris the Spider" G. Cream 8. "Plexiglas Toilet" H. Aerosmith 9. "Several Species of Small Furry Animals J. J. Geils Band Gathered Together In a Cave and Grooving With K. The Who a Pict" 10. "Happy Trails"
1 Rock Me Jerry Lewis - Mike Elliott & Bud Latour
2 Fish Heads - Barnes & Barnes
3 Wet Dream - Kip Addotta
4 Dead Puppies - Ogden Edsl
5 They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! - Napoleon XIV
6 Polka Dot Undies - Bowser & Blue
7 The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun - Julie Brown
8 Big Butt - Bobby Jimmy & The Critters
9 Existential Blues - Tom "T-Bone" Stankus
10 Last Will and Temperament - The Frantics
11 Yoda - "Weird Al" Yankovic
12 Roaches - Bobby Jimmy & The Critters
13 Human Race - The Frantics
14 Another One Rides the Bus - "Weird Al" Yankovic
15 Shaving Cream - Dr. Demento
16 Marvin - Marvin the Paranoid Android
17 2 Hot 4 U Part 2 - Barry & the Bookbinders
18 Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing - Teevee Toons Master Mix
19 Stardrek - Bobby Pickett & Peter Ferrara
20 Pencil Neck Geek - Fred Blassie
21 I Hate When That Happens - Billy Crystal
22 Gonna Buy Me A Dog - The Monkees
23 Christmas at Ground Zero - "Weird Al" Yankovic
24 Mr. Comet - Whimsical Will
25 I Do The Watusi - Howie Mandel
One of our favorite Demented traditions is the annual Funny 25 show, in which we count down the 25 most requested Demented Discs and tapes of the year just ending.
Every year the Funny 25 is a mad mix of new sensations and old standbys, and 1986 was no exception.
The Number One request for 1986 was definitely one of the "new sensations," "Rock Me Jerry Lewis." This parody of the hit song "Rock Me Amadeus" was created by two disc jockeys at radio station KZZP in Phoenix, Mike Elliott and Bud Latour, along with KZZP's production whiz Mark Davis. (Bud has since moved to a Chicago station).
At first it was nothing more than a taped bit for the amusement of their radio listeners, but when it became the most-requested song on the station (displacing "Amadeus" itself) Mike, Bud and Mark realized they had something special. Before long, record store customers all over Arizona were demanding "Rock Me Jerry Lewis." KZZP's program director Guy Zapoleon sent a tape our way, and before long "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" was a nationwide phenomenon.
After Jerry Lewis himself heard the tape and was much amused, Mike, Bud and Mark (along with KZZP's management) decided to dedicate "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" as a fundraising tool for Jerry's cause, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Thousands of copies of the song were pressed up on 45s and sold for MDA's benefit, and the effort was climaxed by a "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" party at a Phoenix club, with yours truly as the MC (see Dr. Demento's Diary, this issue).
Copies of "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" are still available from KZZP, by the way; the 45 also contains a funny bit called "The Making of Rock Me Jerry Lewis." For information write to KZZP, P.O. Box 5159, Mesa, AZ 85201 -- attention: Mark Davis.
One of our old Demented standbys, "Fish Heads" by Barnes & Barnes, was the second most requested Demented Disc for 1986. Since "Fish Heads" was first released in 1979, it has never failed to score in the Top Ten of the Funny 25. "Dead Puppies," this year's Number Four, has maintained a similar streak since 1978! Perhaps the most remarkable streak of all belongs to song #5, "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" which has been on every Funny 25 since the Dr. Demento show was first heard on network radio in 1974. Yet another true perennial, with its ninth consecutive Funny 25 appearance, is Fred Blassie's "Pencil Neck Geek."
Dementia's most-requested artist, "Weird Al" Yankovic, placed three songs this year, including "Christmas at Ground Zero" from his latest album Polka Party. The Los Angeles comedy-rap group called Bobby Jimmy and the Critters was a double winner with "Roaches," a parody of the hit song "Rumors," and "Big Butt."
Other new Dementia on the 1986 Funny 25 included..."Polka Dot Undies," that naughty little piece of wordplay intoned a la early Bob Dylan by Canadian crackups Bowser and Blue... "2 Hot 4 U Part 2," the trials and tribulations of adolescence as lampooned by Barry and the Bookbinders on an unreleased tape... "Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing" featuring the greatest cultural icons of our time (theme songs and dialogue from 50s, 60s and early 70s TV shows) compressed into a 3 1/2-minute dance delight by the makers of the popular Television's Greatest Hits albums... "Mr. Comet," one of several unreleased tapes made for us recently by Whimsical Will, who is doing for the 1980s what Dickie Goodman did for earlier decades with his clever montages of current hits..."I Do the Watusi" by Howie Mandel from his popular comedy album Fits Like a Glove...and a song recorded in 1966 making its first-ever appearance on the Funny 25 as part of the Great American Monkee-mania Replay, "Gonna Buy Me A Dog."
Many listeners have written me asking whre they can get copies of these Funny 25 favorites. Here's the info:
"Wet Dream" is on Kip Addotta's Rhino album
COMEDIAN OF THE UNITED
STATES. "Yoda" is on "Weird Al" Yankovic's Rock
'n' Roll album DARE TO BE
STUPID. "I Hate When That Happens" is on Billy Crystal's
MAHVELOUS. "Christmas at Ground Zero" is on Weird Al's
Rock 'n' Roll album
POLKA PARTY. "I Do the Watusi" is on Howie Mandel's Warner
Bros. album FITS
LIKE A GLOVE. All these may be found in the COMEDY bin at better
local record stores.
"Big Butt," "Roaches" and "Jane, Get Me Off This
Crazy Thing" were released
on 12" dance-music singles and may be found at stores specializing
records. "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" is on the LP THE MONKEES recently
Rhino Records. "Polka Dot Undies," "Last Will and
Temperament," "Human Race,"
"Marvin," "2 Hot 4 U Part 2" and "Mr.
Comet" have not, alas, been released in
the USA. Albums by Bowser & Blue and The Frantics are
available in Canada.
"Fish Heads," "Dead Puppies," "They're Coming To Take
Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,"
"The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," "Existential
Blues," "Another One Rides
the Bus" and "Pencil Neck Geek" are on the Rhino
collection DR. DEMENTO
PRESENTS THE GREATEST NOVELTY RECORDS OF ALL TIME. "Shaving
"Stardrek" are on the Rhino album DR. DEMENTO'S
DEMENTIA ROYALE. These are
available on record and tape in the COMEDY section of your local record
or through the DEMENTO SOCIETY, P.O. Box 884, Culver City, CA 90230.
"Big Butt," "Roaches" and "Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing" were released on 12" dance-music singles and may be found at stores specializing in these records. "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" is on the LP THE MONKEES recently reissued on Rhino Records. "Polka Dot Undies," "Last Will and Temperament," "Human Race," "Marvin," "2 Hot 4 U Part 2" and "Mr. Comet" have not, alas, been released in the USA. Albums by Bowser & Blue and The Frantics are available in Canada.
"Fish Heads," "Dead Puppies," "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!," "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," "Existential Blues," "Another One Rides the Bus" and "Pencil Neck Geek" are on the Rhino collection DR. DEMENTO PRESENTS THE GREATEST NOVELTY RECORDS OF ALL TIME. "Shaving Cream" and "Stardrek" are on the Rhino album DR. DEMENTO'S DEMENTIA ROYALE. These are available on record and tape in the COMEDY section of your local record shop or through the DEMENTO SOCIETY, P.O. Box 884, Culver City, CA 90230.
In closing, I'd like to tip my tophat to "Musical Mike" Kieffer, who has compiled the Funny 25 each year since 1975. It is calculated, using a point-scoring system, from the weekly Funny Five that concludes each show. Mike is also, by the way, the creator of the unique "hand music" heard on "Eat It" and other "Weird Al" Yankovic recordings. He is an engineer with Hughes Aircraft in California and is the owner of one of the planet's finest collections of early jazz 78s.
1. Ogden Edsl's hit _____
2. Railroad (abbrev.)
9. Ron Howard role in Mayberry RFD
10. Pork _____ hat
12. An infant may do this while teething
13. Opposite of yes
14. Cheaper to _____ her
16. Holds a lot of beer
18. _____ man, video game
19. Beatles movie
20. A single Santa helper
23. Equal Rights Amendment (abbrev.)
25. The total in addition
27. Farrow's first name
30. The process of subtle or gradual absorption
32. Writer of Hey Bruce
38. The little red _____
39. Small town south of Ventura, CA
1. Who you read about in this newsletter
2. Make a mistake
3. Weird Al's newest LP, _____ Party
4. Opposite of down
5. To mope for the fijords
6. Purple _____ eater
7. Bandleader Jones
11. The _____ That Ate Chicago
15. A light brown or tan color
17. _____ Cid (Spanish)
19. Napoleon XIV said this many times
21. _____ and behold
22. _____ Me to You
25. Opposite of "bro" (brother)
26. Dr. D. plays a lot of this
29. Listen to the Dr. Demento _____ show
32. What an owl says
33. A witch's spell
34. A bed and breakfast place
35. To _____ With Love
36. To ripen
37. Let sleeping dogs _____
Dear Doctor: I have written some original songs.
How can I get them played on the radio?
--E. Miller, New Hyde Park, NY
The Doctor Replies: Most radio programmers won't even consider playing a new recording unless it's commercially released, preferably on a major label...but I'm different. Unreleased tapes are a major part of the Dr. Demento Show. We get dozens of them each week. That's how I discovered "Weird Al" Yankovic back in 1976...and more recently such fine talents as Wally Wingert, Whimsical Will, Tim Cavanagh and Barry & the Bookbinders.
Of course, I can't play every tape I receive. Only the very best ones go out on the air...they have to be worthy of air time I could otherwise use for Monty Python or Spike Jones!
However, if you've got something really funny on tape, do send it in! You don't have to go to an expensive professional studio... but a crisp, clean recording where the lyrics can be easily understood is a necessity. Those small portable recorders with built-in microphones don't quite make the grade for network radio, but the compact "semipro" or "demo" equipment widely available in music and electronics stores will do nicely. Oh, and avoid those seven nasty words!
P.S. for L.J. in Chicago: There's not a whole lot I can do with lyrics that people send in without music, but try and find a collaborator to help you get those loony lines on tape!
P.S. for everybody: I listen to all those tapes myself. Sometimes I get a little behind, so if you've sent one in, please be patient -- I will get back to you as soon as I can!
Dear Doctor: Are you planning to release any
videocassettes in the future?
--John B. Yeager III, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
The Doctor Replies: Yes, John, I certainly am. I can't say when just yet...we want to do it right, to have something I can be proud to recommend to you, and that takes time. But there's a lot of demented material on film and videotape just screaming to be seen, and I can hardly wait to show it to you. We'll keep you posted in the News.
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.
Most stations pay close attention to feedback from their listeners, so your telling them that you'd like to hear the Dr. Demento Show on their station is the best thing you can do, short of sending rubber chickens.
The Demento Society
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90230
Paul Frees, certainly one of the most prolific vocal talents in the industry, passed away on November 4, 1986. Best known as the voice of arch-villain Boris Badenov in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, he was additionally respected in commercial circles as the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Frees' appearances in movies were little more than walk-ons in mysteries and westerns. His voices, however, were put to good if uncredited use very often. In "The Time Machine," he was the voice of the spinning rings that held the only knowledge of the planet's history. His cartoon characterizations are legend as well: Morocco Mole on "The Secret Squirrel Show," Inspector Fenwick from "Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties," Wally Walrus on "The Woody Woodpecker Show," Ben Grimm of "The Fantastic Four," and both John and George on the animated "Beatles" show.
Frees could put a backspin on impersonations that zeroed in on a personality's peculiarities with dead aim. Spike Jones allowed him room to ad-lib, in a demented parody of Peter Lorre anguish, to "My Old Flame" ("...my new lovers all seem so tame...THEY WON'T EVEN LET ME STRANGLE THEM!!)* Stan Freberg's "History of the United States" features a very sly dig by Mr. Frees at the longer-winded narrations of Orson Welles. In his own album "Paul Frees and the Poster People", his Sydney Greenstreet gobbles the lyrics to "Sugar Sugar" with a mania.
For Disney, Paul Frees provided the voice for Professor Ludwig Von Drake as well as many Disneyland attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, the Pirates of the Carribean, and the Hall of Presidents.
*Lorre himself once followed Frees' imitation as a guest on Spotlight Revue in 1948.
The Doctor thanks Rob Pinsel for his remembrance of the late Paul Frees, and welcomes all contributions to The Demento Society News. Send your story to The Demento Society, P.O. Box 884, Culver City, California, 90230. If we use your contribution in one of our newsletters, we will send you a free full-color Dr. Demento T-shirt!
2-H. Bull Moose Jackson's original 1953 recording of this classic double-entendre jump blues is a regular feature on the Dr. Demento Show. One evening in 1974 Steven Tyler of Aerosmith happened to hear it on the show -- and his electrified version is on Aerosmith's famous Toys in the Attic. Who knows--maybe someday you'll hear an obscure gem on the show and turn it into a hit for your band!
3-A. "Big Bad Bill" was only a minor hit when Tin Pan Alley veterans Jack Yellen and Milton Ager ("Ain't She Sweet") wrote it in 1924. But Jan Van Halen, father of Alex and Edward, remembered it...he plays clarinet behind David Lee Roth's vocal on the album Diver Down.
4-E. Perhaps the best-known slice of utter lunacy recorded by a major rock group, "You Know My Name" was actually scheduled to be the A-side of a 1970 Beatles single until the group changed its mind. It is still available today, though, as the flip side of "Let It Be."
5-B. Chuck Berry is a charter member of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame...but, to the chagrin of "serious" rock historians, the only #1 single he has ever had is this naughty nursery rhyme, first recorded in the early 1950s by Dave Bartholomew.
6-G. "Mother's Lament" (or "Your Baby Has Gone Down the Plughole" aka "The Drainpipe Song") is another antique, a British cockney comedy tune from before WWII. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and/or Ginger Baker must have heard it in childhood; their heartfelt rendition is an off-the-cuff encore for their brilliant album Disraeli Gears (1967).
7-K. A John Entwhistle original, "Boris the Spider" appears on the second Who album (1966 -- known as A Quick One in England and as Happy Jack in the USA) and on several subsequent compilations.
8-C. Styx, the Chicago band that hit its peak with Cornerstone (1979) and Paradise Theater (1981) was famed for serious, sumptuous soundscapes, not scatological reggae, but they did sneak in a bit of the latter on their third album, The Serpent Is Rising (1974 -- called simply Serpent on later pressings). Note: "Plexiglas Toilet' is not included on the song list on the cover, but it's on the record, on all known copies.
9-D. "Several Species...", an "instrumental" featuring a menagerie of magical sounds performed by Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, is on the group's 1969 double album Ummagumma. We're eagerly awaiting the CD release of this track; I have a feeling the LPs and cassettes don't do true justice to its subtle sonics.
10-F. Van Halen's penchant for the unconventional reached its apogee with Diver Down, the 1982 platinum album that contained this lusty a cappella rendition of Roy Rogers' immortal theme song, along with song #3 in this quiz.
If you would like to write to a Dementite or Dementoid, please send us a postcard and include your name, address, city, state, zip, sex and age. Make all cards legible. No phone numbers or photos please! In 20 words or less tell what kind of Pen Pal you would like to have. Cards submitted will be printed in the Demento Society News as space allows. Write to:
The Demento Society
P.O. Box 884
Culver City, CA 90230
Hey, Doc! I enjoy running, comedy and movies, and I will write to
anyone who is demented!
4255 Sheva Lane
Hamburg, NY 14075
Male, Age 18
Weird Al, Rappin' Rodney, Paranoid Androids, Scotsmen, and The Frantics.
are just a few of my favorite things. Let me know what some of yours
717 Shaw Road, SW
Addisville, GA 30103
Male, Age 19
I would like to correspond with other serious collectors of Spike Jones,
Freberg, Homer & Jethro, Allan Sherman, Jonathan Winters, and
Hudson & Landry.
Robert W. Whitby
P.O. Box 40307
Ft. Worth, TX 76140
Male, Age 60
Help me. Help me. I'm turning...normal! Write now!!
9 Harrison Ave.
Everett, MA 02149
Male, Age 18
I have a dream, Doctor. In it, I'm corresponding with an 18 year old Pisces
female and, like me, she loves demented artists like Weird Al and Ray
and enjoys music trivia. Will anyone help make my dream come true?
P.O. Box 264
Palestine, AR 72372
Male, Age 18