Thursday, April 12, 2012

White Men Can't Wrap

"Yo! - ladies and gentlemen - check this out!

White rap is a centuries-old tradition; the original white rappers were square-dance callers improvising rhymes for Saturday-night barn parties in America's rural bckwaters. Like today's rappers, they were seen as debauchers, imperiling the morals of the young. The fiddle was "the instrument of the devil"; church leaders banned it. The callers' freestyle rhymes teased with erotic innuendoes ("Duck for the oyster/Dig for the clam/Knock a hole in the old tin can").
The stuff they taught you in the grade-school gymnasium, that cornball mountain music with the do-si-dos - it was all about sex and forbidden behaviour! It was the roots of today's white rap culture. Herewith, a tribute."
Heh heh. The above is from Irwin Chusid's liner notes to this 1994 various-artists Rhino Records comp purporting to be the history of white rap. The presentation may be tongue-in-cheek, but the music is for real: an entertaining assortment of talking-blues, celebrity recitations-with-music, and oddball novelties from the 1950's to the '80s, many of which were actual hit singles. Fun stuff, from a grim Jack "Sgt. Friday" Webb attempting to be romantic, to all the country/western songs that were clearly laying the groundwork for such contemporary 'hick-hop' stars as Cowboy Troy and Colt Ford. And listening to "They're Coming to Take Me Away" again reminded me of what a truly deranged record that really was.

1. They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!-Napoleon XIV
2. Ringo-Lorne Greene ("The original white gangsta rap track")
3. Try A Little Tenderness-Jack Webb (from the 1958 album "You're My Girl: Romantic Reflections by Jack Webb")
4. Hot Rod Lincoln-Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
5. Psychopathia Sexualis-Lenny Bruce (the famed 'sick' comic does a Beat jazz/poetry kinda thing about beastiality)
6. Big Bad John-Jimmy Dean
7. Full Metal Jacket-Abigail Mead & Nigel Goulding (Featuring the drill inspector from Kubrick's 1987 film)
8. Convoy-C.W. McCall
9. It Ain't Me Babe-Sebastian Cabot (from an entire album of the portly actor's Dylan interpretations)
10. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)-Phil Harris
11. The Rain In Spain-Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Robert Coote
12. Deck Of Cards-Tex Ritter


Anonymous said...

"Ringo" -- Lorne Greene also does that in French. Seriously.

"Hot Rod Lincoln" -- Johnny Bond, about 1950?

"Smoke Smoke Smoke" -- Tex Williams on Capitol, dates back to the '40s?

"Big Bruce" (parody of Big Bad John) by Steve Greenberg on Trip. About an effeminate hairdresser....

"Deck of Cards" -- Wink Martindale (ugh!) on Dot, also "Hillbilly Deck of Cards" by Simon Crum (alternate ego of Felin Husky)


Mr Fab said...

Oh yeah, "Big Bruce" - that reminds me of "They Took you Away, I'm Glad I'm Glad" by campy gay act Teddy & Darryl.

Soul Motion said...

Its really a good article. It gives me lots of pleasure and interest.

Domenic Ciccone (AKA Martooni) said...

Met my wife at a square dance. So I'm eating your comments up!

Anonymous said...

please Re-Re-Re-Up?
Haven't heard a couple of these nuggets in many moons! Thanks much Mr. Fab!

Anonymous said...

Hot Rod Lincoln - yeah!
thank you thank you!!
much luv

Anonymous said...

One more that shouldn't be overlooked: "Let it all hang out." by the Hombres from 1967. "The Nails" did a cover of it, but it didn't quite match the attitude of the original. Around that time (1984??) they also did "88 Lines About 44 Women", which also deserves honorable mention.