Also, the long-delayed STAN FREBERG entry in Capitol's fine Collector's Series is finally in the stores (CDP 7-91627-2). Contrary to advance rumors, there is no previously unreleased material here save a bit of studio chatter, but most of Freberg's hilarious hit singles are included in the disc's very generous 71-minute program. The extensive liner notes (with introduction by Freberg himself) hint at a future Volume II.
SPIKE JONES' CD catalog now includes a 22-track selection of his prolific early 1940's work for the Standard Transcription Company, Riot Squad (Harlequin HoCD 01, import). This is early Spike--simply goofy good-time music, without the more ambitious flights of lunacy that marked his greatest work in the mid- and late Forties, but righteously entertaining anyhow. Much in evidence, even on these casual one-take recordings, is the crackerjack musicianship that was just then beginning to raise Spike's band above the level of such riotous rivals as Freddie "Schnickelfritz" Fisher, the Korn Kobblers and the Hoosier Hot Shots.
FRANK ZAPPA is Spike's modern counterpart in a surprising number of ways-- crackerjack musicianship, a reputation as a strict taskmaster and total perfectionist, in general a serious, nononsense attitude toward the making of humorous music. Zappa now has no less than 31 CD packages available on the Rykodisc label. Newly reissued, in honor of his 25th anniversary in the record business (he's actually been at it a bit longer than that) are eight prime sets including Chunga's Revenge, Sheik Yerbouti, Tinseltown Rebellion and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Hardcore Zappaphiles will want to haunt the collector's bins in search of a new promo-only, CD-only sampler, You Can't Do That On the Radio Anymore.
Collectors of pre-World War II dementia have two more entertaining compilation CD's to look for: Comic Cuts (Old Bean DOLD 2, import) with a nifty selection of vintage British musical humour by the likes of George Formby, Gracie Fields, Charles Penrose ("The Laughing Policeman") and Leslie Sarony, and Laughter From the Hip (Jass J-CD-20) with rare original 78's of such blasts from the past as "Cement Mixer," "Barnacle Bill the Sailor," "The Duck's Yas Yas Yas" and "My Girl's Pussy."
And now, the new stuff. I'll start with the ones that are available nationwide, at least in larger stores with more comprehensive selections. This generally means a store that's not in a shopping mall. If you go to a store and ask for the comedy section, and there is none, or all it has is Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison, you need to try another store! The numbers given are for the CD versions; all of these are also available on cassette, and most have also been released on vinyl, at least nominally (good luck!)
PINKARD & BOWDEN, the singing duo that's appeared several times on the show, does live versions of "Libyan On a Jet Plane," "Elvis Was a Narc" and other favorites as well as some brand new material on Pinkard & Bowden Live (Warner Bros. 26057-2) Actually, only about the first two-thirds of the disc is live; the transition from the live part to the studio part is damnably clever.
LEON REDBONE's latest, Sugar (Private Music 2063-2-P) is an uncannily authentic homage, even more so than usual for Leon, to the music of the 1920's. It's also his most entertaining and energetic album in a while. Also recommended, though, is Leon's Christmas Island, sure to add a note of nostalgic charm to any holiday gathering.
The well-known young actor CRISPIN HELLION GLOVER (The River's Edge, Back To the Future) is also into nostalgia. He sings "The Daring Young Man On the Flying Trapeze" and reads from some curious old books on his album, produced by Dementia superstars Barnes & Barnes (The Big Problem The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be, Restless 7 72316-2) This truly bizarre sonic adventure also has a version of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" that could incite a riot at your local oldies nightclub. Perhaps the very best cut is one they won't let me play on the radio (boo), a rap song about masturbation.
More nostalgia with a modern twist may be found on Gumby (Buena Vista CD-017), a compilation of nine new songs inspired by that magically malleable little green guy, sung and played by such notables as Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa, Brave Combo, Jonathan Richman, Flo & Eddie and Sly & Robbie, plus the original Gumby TV theme sung by Frank Sinatra Jr. An especially demented favorite is the "Ballad of Gumby" sung in the style of "Big Bad John" by Rick Schulman. You'Il probably find this item (appropriately or not) in the children's bin.
The overnight success of Tracy Chapman a couple of years ago drew attention to something that's been going on for quite a while - the new folk revival. Unlike the folk revivalists of the sixties, the new folk revival singers don't sing folk songs. What they're reviving is the general ethos of such 1960's artists as Joan Baez and Gordon Lightfoot, their emphasis on meaningful lyrics and their simple, tasteful, mostly acoustic accompaniments.
Like the 60's folkies, many new folk revivalists have a sense of humor, dropping whimsical twists into generally serious songs and now and then coming up with a comic masterpiece such as CHRISTINE LAVIN's "Sensitive New Age Guys" (from Attainable Love, Philo CD PH 1132). Other excellent albums in this genre are by FRED KOLLER (The Night Before, Alcazar 107) and JOHN GORKA (I Know, Red House RHR CD IS, and Land of the Bottom Line, Windham Hill WD 1089).
Other genres: Cheater's Telethon by GERRY HOUSE (MCAD-42341) uses a make-believe telethon as an imaginative framework for clever satiric bits and sketches about country music and other phenomena, and several amusing songs including "Wimpiest White Man In the World."
Like their previous albums, the major-label debut of THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (Flood, Elektra 9 60907-2) has quirky, spare, inventive modern rock music decorated with abundant humor. A delightful revival of a 1953 novelty hit, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," is a nice bonus.
CHUNKY A, as everyone must know by now, is television's Arsenio Hall in Fat Boy disguise. Large And In Charge (MCA MCAD-6354) is a collection of good-natured satires on contemporary black music, including the hilarious "Sorry" (and for good measure, a relatively serious anti-drug song).
Many interesting and entertaining recordings today are sold primarily or exclusively by mail. These range from thoroughly professional productions to tapes duplicated at home by the artists themselves (but often sounding just as good). You can read about a huge variety of these off-the-beaten-path recordings in any issue of Option magazine.
Here are some artists whose songs have been heard on the Dr. Demento Show, with addresses you can write to for further information. All have cassettes available; some also have CD or vinyl, as shown.
MIKE AGRANOFF ("My Favorite Diseases") RD4, Box 45, Oak Hills, Boonton, NJ 07005
HEYWOOD BANKS ("If Pigs Had Wings," etc.) Heywood Banks Fan Club, PO Box 484, Howell, MI 48844 (CD)
JOHN BARTLES ("Plastic Town") PO Box 288, Springwater, NY 14560
THE CAPITOL STEPS (Georgie On My Mind, many other political satires) For information phone 1-800-733-STEP (CD)
TOM DARK ("Einstein") PO Box 217, Dundee, NY 14837
THE FLASHCATS ("On the Road With the Flashcats") 1409 E. Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203
KRYPTON ("Let's Blow Up the Tow Truck," "Hangover," etc.) PO Box 14106, Minneapolis, MN 55414
THE PHEROMONES ("Where's The Service," "Yuppie Drone" etc.) E.C. Records, PO Box 5765, Bethesda, MD 20814 (CD)
SNEAKY PETE RIZZO ("Booger On My Beer Mug," etc.) c/o Texas A&M University, Biology Dept., Box 3578, College Station, TX 77843
JIM TERR ("A Thousand Points of Light," etc.) Blue Canyon Productions, PO Box 6460, Santa Fe, NM 87502
VICTOR BANANA ("What I Did Last Summer," "Strange Things Are Happening," etc.) Splat-Co Records, PO Box 643, San Pedro, CA 90733-0643 (Vinyl)
And a couple of compilations...
THE FUNNIEST COMPUTER SONGS ("I'm A Mainframe, Baby," "Do It Yourself," "Engineers' Rap," etc.) $8.98 $1 shipping--CA residents add sales tax Vince Emery Productions, PO Box 460279, San Francisco, CA 94146
HAUNTED MOTEL ("Werecow" by Flippy T. Fishead) Boffo Records, PO Box 56412, Houston, TX 77256-6412 (CD)
...in demented (reverse) alphabetical order
I'm still amazed myself at all the things it can do... from answering an almost unlimited number of calls simultaneously to giving out (in my own voice, yet) information on radio stations carrying my show in any Area Code in the U.S.A.
Every week I prepare and record a four-minute recap of the previous week's show, with excerpts from up to ten different songs (including the Funny Five) and also select a Pick of the Week which callers can hear in its entirety. Often this is a recording which is totally unavailable in stores. I also update the station information, and ask a new trivia question. We've been mixing relatively easy trivia questions with some real sticklers, trying to make the feature as interesting as possible and also giving everyone a chance to win.
We also have an Ask the Doc feature, in which callers are invited to ask me a question about records and tapes heard on the show (or anything else that comes to mind). Every week I pick one of the most interesting questions (preferably something likely to interest a large number of listeners) and answer it on the show, awarding the lucky caller a T shirt or other prize from the Demento Society. While I'm afraid it's impossible for me to personally reply to every question, if you've got a question that only I can answer, there IS an alternative. almost every week I have "office hours," during which a private line to my home is opened up and I answer any and all questions in person. Information on these office hours is updated weekly on the 900 line and can be accessed by selecting the "Ask the Doc" option according to the instructions given when your call is answered.
Our Demented Hotline also provides information on ordering Demented tapes, CD's, albums and/or T-shirts, and on joining the Demento Society (which you know about already, of course)...and of course one of the options is that old favorite, the Dr. Demento Request Line. We're taking considerably more requests now than came in over the old standard toll-call line; thanks for your support! Many listeners have asked me what happened to 1-900-BANANAS which was our original hotline. After it was hooked up, we made the unfortunate discovery that due to the quirks of competing long-distance phone services, about 20% of the USA could not get through to that line. Our new number 1-900-773-7333 isn't as catchy, granted, but it is accessible to almost everyone, provided your phone circuit isn't programmed to reject all calls to 900 numbers. (You may run into one of these "900 blocks" if you try to call from work).
Remember, if you can't get through, or if you'd just rather write than call, you can make a request, play the trivia game, or send an "Ask the Doc" question by mail at the regular Society address (8033 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046).You have an equal chance to win the same prizes that are awarded to lucky Hotline callers.
We moved...my wife and I, our cat Stella, about the normal amount of furniture and appliances for a modern California couple...and 250,000 records!
We loved our former home in Sherman Oaks...after all, it had quite a history, having been at one time the world headquarters of the Westwood One Radio Network. But I guess it wasn't built with 250,000 records in mind, for the floor in one room had started to sag rather badly. (Could it be coincidental that it was the room that held the heavy metal albums?)
So we found a new home in another part of Southern California, with a separate building that turned out to be just right for a studio plus record storage. It's built on a solid concrete slab, so no sagging is anticipated.
My wife prevailed on me to hire professional movers, thereby ensuring that the friends I was going to ask for help are still our friends (and not a bunch of invalids with broken backs, threatening to sue us)
The actual move took three truckloads, three crews, and three days. We've enclosed some photos, courtesy of Westwood One staff photographer Herb Powell.
A local TV station came by as well, and we made the afternoon and evening news on Channel 4.
Of course the packing took weeks...and we're still unpacking. I packed most of the records myself, with some valued help from our production assistant, blues drummer, stained glass artist...the man who keeps the Demento Society going, the pride of Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Bob Ebersole. Thanks Bob!
Though I had some idea in advance what a job it would be to move the records, what I didn't realize is how many other things had piled up in the process of nearly twenty years of Dementia... tapes, letters, all kinds of gifts, mementos and souvenirs...plus magazines, books, newspaper clippings, all the things I've saved for the book I hope to write someday soon. They all got packed and moved too; we just about cleaned L.A. out of packing boxes.
Despite premonitions of disaster, and the fact that rain dampened our second moving day (it was one of only three or four rainy days we had this whole "rainy" season in Southern California) everything went reasonably smoothly. All those heavy and fragile 78's were transported with but one minor accident - we did fracture a few discs, mostly by early 50's pop singer Georgia Gibbs, best known today perhaps as the unwitting subject of a famous comedy routine by Lenny Bruce. I glued 'em back together, and if I need them before I replace them I'll tape them using the click-and-pop filter.
Most of the movers said they never wanted to see another phonograph record again. "I'll just listen to them on the radio," said one. Well, I guess that's why I keep them all. I just hope we don't have to move again soon!
Shamefully, that's no longer the case...but many talented people still enjoy writing and singing funny songs as much as you enjoy hearing them on the Dr. Demento Show.
People who really enjoy creating Dementia don't let the lack of a record "deal" stop them...they just do it. Some are motivated by dreams of being the next Weird Al or Frank Zappa...some just do it for the love of laughter.
In recent years the development of high-quality "semi-pro" tape equipment has enabled many singers and musicians to make excellent recordings at home, avoiding the expense of renting a professional recording studio.
The Dr. Demento Show is the only network radio show that regularly plays unreleased tapes by amateur and semi-pro performers. We get many fine tapes each week, on cassette and reel-to-reel. Some have gone on to rank among our most- requested songs...this is, after all, the way Weird Al got started. Much as I love the old stuff, there's nothing quite like the thrill of hearing something new, seemingly from out of nowhere, that takes its place next to the masters of Dementia.
(FINE PRINT: Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation for submission of unreleased material. The Dr. Demento Show cannot be responsible for the safety of any tapes it may receive, nor for consequences resulting from broadcast of such tapes. Any copyright or other protection is solely the responsibility of the creators of such tapes. We strongly urge that anyone sending original song material to us or anyone else in show business take steps to copyright or otherwise protect that material from plagiarism).
We take the best, er... worst parts of each, plus trailers, cartoons and assorted oddities, and put 'em all together in a high-energy movie montage. .and as a special bonus, the icing on the cake, LIVE ON STAGE... Murray the Savage Gorilla, Mona the Wonder Nurse, and other frightful creatures, all introduced, interviewed and goaded into towering rages by your dear Doctor.
"Dement-O-Rama" was presented (along with Lobster Man from Mars, a recent feature film in much the same spirit, in which I appear as the off-screen Narrator) as part of the 1990 "Just For Laughs" Montreal comedy festival.
In just eight years the Montreal festival has become the largest regular gathering of funny people in North America if not the entire world. This year's blast featured Bob Newhart, Martin Mull, Will Durst, Dave Thomas, Sam Kinison, animator Chuck Jones, Carl LaBove, Larry Miller, MacLean & MacLean, Bowser & Blue, Lorne Elliott and our own "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Al hosted one of the all-star evening "gala" comedy concerts and performed many of his best songs, with the band that appears on his albums. It was the band's first live performance in a couple of years, but you'd never know that by hearing them, or seeing them on the 90-minute Showtime special (also featuring Newhart and many of the others named above) that aired live on July 21.
We're hoping to present "Dement-O-Rama" in an even bigger and better format in the coming year. Meanwhile, if you love comedy, do consider a trip to Montreal next summer! By the way, the festival management has announced plans to build a Comedy Hall of Fame in Montreal. The municipal, provincial and federal governments are all contributing major funding along with private industry. They do support their comedians (along with other types of artists) in the Great White North!
A DEMENTED SALUTE. Faithful listener of the Dr. Demento Show and Demento Society Member Jim Berg recently sent in this hand-drawn illustration to honor Dr. Demento's 20th Anniversary. Jim has sent us all kinds of wonderful drawings and illustrations in the past, but this one takes the cake. Thanks, Jim!
[Watch your ass while you smoke some grass - Jeff Jason [sic]
I'd love to be your mistress in the dark - Elvira
"He's the best D.J. accordian to me." - Weird Al
Can I break in for a second great show Doc. - Dickie
He's a bozo just like us.
"Give me a ring sometime." - Meri Wilson
"Doc's the Greatest Bete [sic] on it."
"The Doctor Demento Show is the pot of gold at the end of the radio rainbow right Judy...Judy" - Stevens of Stevens & Grdnic
They're not going to keep me away from your 20th show. [Napoleon XIV]
Just relax Doc like me in the field of poppies. - Tom (T-Bone) Stankus
"From One Mistro to Another." - Spike]