Those Nice Young Men In Their Clean White Coats
September 25, 2005 11:17 AM   Subscribe

WFMU's Beware Of The Blog offers 21 variations on the most famous novelty record ever, the creation of recording engineer and goofball Jerry Samuels. Along with the madcappery the original album (now a highly valued collector's item) features nifty audio trickery and other delights. (also, my man matteo tells me that I Balordis Italian version is a baffling mistranslation but it still sounds as nutty as the original. I make no guarantees on any of the other foreign language versions). Get 'em while their hot. This nut's off to hunt the squirrels.
posted by jonmc (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OOH! That's a wonderful find... I'll have this stuck in my head for days now. Thanks Jon!
posted by Kattullus at 11:22 AM on September 25, 2005

dr. demento is smiling somewhere in the land of dementia
posted by tsarfan at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2005

I recall that the flip side of the single had Josephine singing "I'm Happy They Took You Away". What a discovery that was!
posted by mischief at 11:39 AM on September 25, 2005

I bought Napoleon XIV's original LP at thrift shop while I was in high school.

Dude, that slab of vinyl is worth some serious bucks, IIRC.

I remember fondly putting it on for a group of friends who had taken microdot acid. They never forgave me.

You monster! "My Little Red Tricycle," is freaky enough on Camel Lights and Ovaltine.
posted by jonmc at 11:40 AM on September 25, 2005

this is why I love jonmc.

I first heard this song on a "Dr Demento" collection cd that was, in my opinion, the greatest collection of novelty songs ever assembled.

Besides this, there was Frank Zappa's Dancing Fool (which was how I came to love FZ) and Star Trekkin' ("Boldly going forward, 'cause we can't find reverse!") and Dead Puppies and Steve Martin's King Tut and Fish Heads and so many amazing others that it's a shame you can't find the collection around any more. Wait, Yes, you can!

But anyway, I was ten or eleven at the time, so I didn't get that this song was funny. Now... NOW I know.

great link. thanks.
posted by shmegegge at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2005

other highlights from the above collection:

Cheech and Chong's "Ear Ache My Eye," complete with sketch comedy before the song.

and the funniest song/sketch of all time:

Ti Kwan Leap/Boot to the head.
posted by shmegegge at 11:55 AM on September 25, 2005

After this and his recent mp3 postings at the Mighty MeCh, I'm beginning t suspect jonmc IS dr. demento. (I mean that in the nicest way)

My single of "They're Coming to..." had the backwards version on the flip side, which I considered quite appropriate.

And "The Emperor" who did the "I'm Normal" response record was 'Emperor' Bob Hudson, longtime LA DJ and half of the Hudson & Landry comedy team... in my misspent youth H&L personally gave me a copy of one of their best (and most obscure) routines "The Chocolate Freak" which I passed on to Dr. D himself the first time I met him.
/radio namedropping
posted by wendell at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2005

Oh, gods. I'll never be able to thank you enough, jonmc. My girlfriend, on the other hand, will almost certainly want to lynch you, but that's her problem, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2005

Many years ago (maybe mid 80's) Sunday nights in Buffalo, listening to CHUM FM in Toronto. Dr. Demento.. I loved being able to listen to all the Canadian Stations.. And the Dr Demento Countown.. Weird Al, Dead Puppies, Fish Heads, so many memories of laughing while listening to my little Sony Cube alarm clock before going to sleep. . Great Post.
posted by thedoctorpants at 2:01 PM on September 25, 2005

My version of the single also has the backwards version on the flipside. That was always a Demento fave of mine, and I liked it a little more when I found out it was released the week I was born. I bought a copy of the album for five bucks in highschool and sold it for ten in college (to get beer and a sandwich) and I thought I was one shrewd record shopper. Doh!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2005

Not that the original version was very soulful, but how does Kim Fowley manage to take all the soul out of the song on his version? And the I Balordi version is outright creepy. Thanks jonmc, but now I have to get this damn clapping beat out of my head...
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:48 PM on September 25, 2005

Come on now, where're the twenty-one variations on "She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor"? Or "Ain't Never Seen A Straight Banana"?

posted by the sobsister at 3:16 PM on September 25, 2005

I think it's still in print, but Rhino Records released a CD of the complete works of Napoleon, titled The Second Coming; it's got the complete first record, and all the stuff that was recorded for the aborted second album, along with notes by Dr. Demento and Jerry Samuels; it's really interesting the way he talks about some of the techniques on that record -- the speeding/slowing vocals are done by a process on the tape machine he figured out to change the pitch without changing the tempo (too awfully much). Also, "Goofin' on the Job" was a song cut from the record (it's awfully dark), but it was actually a pretty cool little pop song; reminds me a little bit of "A Tear for Eddie" by Ween.

One of the reasons I like novelty music is that artists can get away with a little more expirimentation if it's a "comedy" record; check out the stuff by Barnes & Barnes; there's a LOT of experimentation on those records; different recording techninques, dense soundscapes made in mixing; collages; all sorts of stuff. I'm particularly fond of Amazing Adult Fantasy, which is split between Novelty Songs and Straight Pop Songs, both of which are very good. Also, Spazchow is very good as well, though that's split more closely between experimental work and novelty songs.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:19 PM on September 25, 2005

Awesome post jonmc!

I wish we saw more music posts from you.
posted by caddis at 5:55 PM on September 25, 2005

Heh. As I implied in my post on LSD records, the record album was in that era one of the most accessible mass media available, sort of an early internet built of discrete packets made of vinyl. This sort of variations-on-a-theme game is not without reason familiar.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 PM on September 25, 2005

Hm. The backwards version sounds like Russian -- something about the word-by-word inflection. I wonder if Russian backwards sounds like English.
posted by dhartung at 12:01 AM on September 26, 2005

Very nice post jon. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2005

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