Friday, April 12, 2013

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT ANNETTE FUNICELLO

You may have heard that The Queen of the Beach, Annette Funicello, recently died at age 70. And, yes, she was a Mouseketeer on "the Mickey Mouse Club" tv series, and starred in the 'beach party' films of the Sixties. But what you gremmies and hodads must dig is that she ticks off a lot of strange-music boxes: exotica; Space Age; novelty music; funny/dumb/clever lyrics; bizarre musical hybrids (e.g.the Cuban/Hawaiian "Surfers' Luau," "Rock-a-Polka,") wild, highly energetic surf/early rock; lounge cheese; explorations of sleazy/kitschy Americana; collaborations with hipster faves like Dick Dale, Fishbone, and the Beach Boys; and songs about circus freaks and mad scientists. And, tho she was most certainly a Big Show-Biz insider, she did everything with the guileless innocence of an outsider - since Annette never intended to be a singer (Walt Disney just pushed her in that direction) she had no agenda, no aspirations, no bitterness about the roles she was offered, and so sang everything with an equal amount of sincerity, whether it was a forlorn love song, or a ridiculous tale about a freak named Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy.

Why haven't punk bands been covering these songs?! She seems to have been overlooked among Crampsian devotees of early mondo-rock collections like "Las Vegas Grind" and  "Wavy Gravy." Maybe because the rap on Annette was that she was another not-too-talented 'teen idol' making bland commercial pap, like Connie Francis, Fabian, and her co-star Frankie Avalon. But even a cursory listen to these songs shoots down that characterization. The berserk energy level and general weirdness of these songs clearly distinguishes her from the likes of, say, Shelly Fabares.

All these songs are from her late '50s-to-mid '60s heyday, except for the last two tracks: her 1985 appearance with Fishbone from the film "Back To The Beach" (I saw it when it came out!) and an early '80s tribute to Annette from LA pop-punk stalwarts Redd Kross. And it was indeed my LA punk youth that first got me into Annette, where she was a kind of den mother figure - never a part of, but beloved by the local surf punks. I still listen to these crazily entertaining songs after all these decades, and I certainly can't say that about everything from my youth. 

A Net Full Of Jello [Thanks to an old Mad Magazine bit for the title]

01 swingin' and surfin'
02 surfin' luau
03 the maid and the martian
04 secret surfin' spot
05 Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy
06 monkey's uncle (with The Beach Boys)
07 California sun
08 draggin' u.s.a.
09 beach party
10 That Crazy Place In Outer Space
11 Merlin Jones
12 Don't Stop Now
13 Rock-a-Polka
14 The Rock-a-Cha
15 Lonely Guitar
16 Tall Paul
17 Pineapple Princess
18 Jamaica Ska (with Fishbone)
BONUS:
Redd Kross - Annette's Got The Hits






6 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice to some love to annette on the old mfm!! doing a quick set dedicated to her on my radio show this sunday (https://www.facebook.com/groups/58410263354/).

Mr Fab said...

Hi anon, what's your show? I'm not on facebook.

Anonymous said...

here's the general description...

every sunday evening from 6:30 - 8:00 pm your host, chris freezing, plays easy listening lounge music for a beach party in hades, that is located beside a broken elevator blasting out 'elevator music' through a shattered transistor radio speaker that really shouldn't work at but somehow still does. sporadic visitations from an indifferent teenager(who really isn't indifferent, it's just fun to say). also, a different version of CARAVAN every week. listen online at ckuw.ca/listen and view past playlists at http://theckuwcarp.blogspot.com/

ps. i have used a myriad of things from MFM in the past. you may also really enjoy another show on the ckuw site called Amateur Hour.

RadioWizard said...

Mr. Fab...nice looking comp here. Only recording of hers I have is Hawaiianette. Nice, young voice. Never was interested in her beach movies...thanks!
Jack

Konrad Useo said...

I'm enjoying the file plenty.
Thanks much.
Goodbye,Annette. You'll be missed.
I'd never seen MUSCLE BEACH PARTY,
so I watched it last night. Good fun.

Ps. Check your hotmail for LAFF 3 invite.
:D

Anonymous said...

Thank you!for this lovely tribute

I've always thought her records were underappreciated!

Big Ern xxx

Melbourne Australia