Another exhibit of weird old album covers? I like this trend. Last year here in Los Angeles we saw the bad religious album covers exhibit, this year, running thru Sept. 5, it's the wacky world of Jewish novelty records of the '50s and '60s. And not in some tiny hipster gallery either, but in the august halls of the Skirball Cultural Center.
Jews On Vinyl "...was developed in association with the publication And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Musical Past As Told By the Records We Have Loved and Lost (Crown, 2008), a project of the non-profit Idlesohn Society for Musical Preservation, which reissues select classic recordings and has created a digital online home for Jewish musical memory in an attempt to restore missing legacies to our contemporary view of Jewish America." These are the folks who put out the infamous "Jewface" collection we wrote about, and whose blog offers much music listening/video viewing satisfaction.
These kinds of records are ubiquitous in American thrift-stores and used record shop bargain bins, and I buy 'em occasionally. But this exhibit puts them in a sociological context I hadn't considered before - as silly as these records can be, they are nonetheless important for documenting the transition of American Jews from isolated tenement-dwelling immigrants to mainstream Americans, from Yiddish theater to (mostly) English-language satire engaging the popular culture. Such as:
Micky Katz "The Most Mishige"
Like a Jewish Spike Jones, Katz made kosher mincemeat of popular songs of the day thru his zany upbeat parodies, laced with lots of Yiddish words I don't know. His still-teenaged son, future Broadway star Joel Grey sings the track "Holidays."
|THE BARBER OF SCHLEMIEL (Mickey Katz)
|RECORDED: July 25/58
|THE POIPLE KISHKE EATER (Sheb Wooley)
|YIDDISHE MAMBO(Sid Kuller-Mel Diamond)
|DOWNTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL (Shelton Brooks)
|HOLIDAYS (Mickey Katz)
|NUDNICK THE FLYING SCHISSEL (Mickey Katz-Irving Fields)
|KNISH DOCTOR(Ross Bagdassarian)
|k'NOCK AROUND THE CLOCK(Jimmy De Knight-Max C. Freedman)
|WHERE IS MY PANTS? (Georges Auric-William Engvick)
|CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN (Jean Schwartz-William Jerome)
|CHEDER DAYS(Gus Edwards-Will D.Cobb)
|IT'S A MICHAYE IN HAWAIYE(Mickey Katz)