Look to the skies. The flying saucers will always be there.
August 18, 2012 7:10 PM   Subscribe

In the mid-1950s, Dickie Goodman was a struggling song writer working with song publisher Bill Buchanan, when the two men came up with the idea of a fake radio program interrupted by a UFO attack (similar to the hoax Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds), except in this case, the aliens spoke the language of rock 'n' roll. The result was Flying Saucer, Parts 1 and 2 on Luniverse Records, the first novelty break-in record and a forerunner to the modern mashup.

After Buchanan and Goodman got sued for copyright violations, they exploited the situation for more publicity, by releasing Buchanan and Goodman on Trial, in which the district attorney was portrayed by Little Richard. Their actual trial turned out even better, establishing a precedent for parodic fair use quotations of hit records, as long as copyright holders were compensated. Goodman would then spend several decades making more "break-in" records, where snippets from Top 40 hits were used to "break in" with commentary on the action. Because the records exploited contemporary news events and pop cultural trends, Goodman's break-in records sound like little time capsules, inspired by topics as varied 50s folk music (The Banana Boat Story), Sputnik (Santa and the Satellite), Westerns (The Flying Saucer Goes West), monster movies (Frankenstein '59/Frankenstein Returns), the Cold War (Russian Bandstand), TV cop shows (the Touchables in Brooklyn), the Berlin Wall (Berlin Top Ten), the 1968 Democratic convention (On Campus), the Apollo moon landing (Luna Trip), blaxploitation (Superfly Meets Shaft), Richard Nixon (Watergrate), and gas shortages (Energy Crisis '74). However, Goodman is probably best known today for the work he did inspired by 1970s film blockbusters (Mr. Jaws, Kong, Star Warts). Goodman continued making break-in records into the 1980s (Election 1980, Safe Sex Report), but he never got back on the charts as he had done in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. As his declining fortunes in the music industry led to a downward spiral of drug addiction and gambling debts, he committed suicide in 1989, never realizing how he would be re-evaluated today as an unintentional pioneer of "sampled" music.

For those curious about all the break-in records not by Bill Buchanan or Dickie Goodman, YouTube user Wayne Butane has an excellent collection on YouTube, including a fake break-in record by comedian Albert Brooks (Party from Outer Space) and an early Beatlemania parody, as well as numerous parodies about the Watergate break-in.
posted by jonp72 (14 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Even without having clicked the links this is a wonderfully composed post. Thanks!
posted by cgc373 at 7:15 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A veritable staple of my Dr. Demento years. They don't tend to age terribly well, but in their own time, they were hilarious.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:39 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Things that don't age very well can tell us a lot about their time, if we're willing to take the time to understand.
posted by mollweide at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2012

Well, I do recall that the first time I heard the name "Golda Meir" on the "Energy Crisis '74" record, my 7-year-old self thought he was actually talking about someone named "Gold O' My Ear", so there's that.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:03 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rock & Roll is here to stay.
posted by nickyskye at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2012

Love this post! I've always enjoyed these kinds of things.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:16 PM on August 18, 2012

The Mr. Jaws video (linked above) is fantastic, by the way.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:16 PM on August 18, 2012

Rock & Roll is here to stay


That is a textbook Big-Lipped Aligator Moment if ever there was one.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:18 PM on August 18, 2012

Well, I've been through the desert on a horse with no mane, and it's it good to get out of Bahrain.
posted by mollweide at 8:25 PM on August 18, 2012

I want to hear a new one where the narrator says "Aren't you Lindsay & Tobias' daughter from Arrested Development?" and the song replies "Call Me Maybe"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:39 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

My father thought these were the stupidest records ever made. Now I understand why.
posted by Ardiril at 10:09 PM on August 18, 2012

First, the use of rock and roll to make people ride a groovy beat? If i take it correctly this is the general "idea" of this disc jockey's hatred for good kids who are trying to work on good school grades. First, he uses the groove of "rock and roll" to make a point that aliens are attacking our society? Well, no, first, at the first beat in the groove we find drugs being taken, and at that point, we may be "rock and rolling" into a hell we don't even know.

You know what we do know, though, in retrospect is that there were no invaders, only kids getting kicks off grooves.

Couldn't he have found a more appropriate sound such as a relentless four to the floor? Generally, when taking drugs kids tend to either "get groovy" or they start to "move to the beat", and as an American, I prefer when they move to beat because grooviness often unfortunately leads to crime.

Thus if you simply rebroadcast this with a steady pattern of kick, kick+snare, kick, kick+snare, then you find little crime in their partyhouses, and when the hi-hats drop they they just go fucking crazy, like they're supposed to, they get into school even harder and they can barely even feel their bodies.

But you make a funky-groove and then a horn element, and the kids get upset, they start to turn to all the drugs about them, and from the drugs they get into more "heavy" "crimebeat" grooves.

Also, I have heard several times from so called popular magazines that we need to hang out to "groovy beats" but wouldn't the "hanging out" entail us stealing from local businesses? It's not such a big party when the law comes to disgrace you in front of everyone, radio parts falling out of your bigman pockets.

That is to say when a kid is lost in the groove he starts to worry more about "freaking out" than schoolwork and that is why I only play for my child psytrance and GOD DAMMIT he cleans his toys when he's peaking, and he is ALWAYS ready for supper.
posted by passerby at 10:10 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Billboard Hot 100 for Oct. 11, 1975:

#3. "Fame", David Bowie
#4. "Mr. Jaws". 10 weeks on the charts.
#5. "Miracles", Jefferson Starship
posted by kurumi at 10:36 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gack. I was actually going to do a post on this.

Need to find something else, then.
posted by solarion at 7:41 AM on August 19, 2012

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