Friday, June 21, 2013
A hardworking, generous Maniac known to us commoners as Count Otto Black has bequeathed unto us an old wooden chest crammed full of mp3s. As I picked each one up and blew the virtual dust off them, my eyes grew wide: 'twas a treasure-trove of bizarre and funny antiques from the shellac era, including a few I was going to include on my own 78rpm strangeness collection (that I never got around to completing, but this is inspiring me) and plenty that were new to me. A plethora of British and America music hall/vaudeville, hillbilly and jazz hepcat novelties. I'll let His Countship tell the tale of a few of these gems:
"here are some very silly 78s, including the banned gay cardboard record, "Let's All Be Fairies"!
The Durium Dance Band were a curious ensemble that existed purely to promote durium, a form of liquid bakelite that never really caught on. The best use they could think of for it was to impregnate cardboard with it, making it tough enough for records to be pressed out of the stuff. The idea was that music magazines could print records on their covers, and this was actually done for quite a while - there was even one by the Monkees! You can instantly spot durium records (many of which are by this band) because they're an unfortunate shade of brown that suggests they may be made of poo...
You probably know "Serutan Yob", but if not, the Unnatural Seven are actually Red Ingle's Natural Seven - a spin-off from Spike Jones' City Slickers - and this is the B-side from their somewhat better-known hit "Cigareets and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women".
Al "Jazzbo" Collins' quartet of Hipster Fairy Tales are surely unique - who exactly were they aimed at? People who wanted their children to grow up to be beatniks? Anyway, I'm pretty sure that these four sides are the genre in its entirety!
I've added a merry comedy number about eating disorders...[and]...both sides of a record officially issued to promote Hadacol. [side 2 will appear on "Silly 78s pt2" - ed.] You'll notice that the claims made for this substance are so ludicrous that even the manufacturers don't seem to take its medicinal virtues seriously - but they do mention several times that it contains alcohol and honey, implying that it's a legal way to get drunk during prohibition (true) and it tastes jolly nice (false). Shades of Lily The Pink!
A comedy song about the Scopes Monkey Trial, though your guess is as good as mine whether the composer was rooting for Darwin or God - personally I think he's just having fun!
Also, a couple of numbers that at the time must have seemed daringly risqué, a cautionary tale about the marital problems faced by circus performers, two howling failures in the political correctness department, a desperate attempt to write a comic song about the latest developments in Egyptology..."
Silly 78s - pt1
1. Leslie Sarony "Ain't It Grand To Be Blooming Well Dead (Side A)"
2. Cactus Pryor & The Pricklypears "Cry Of The Dying Duck In A Thunderstorm"
3. Basin Street Six "Everybody Loves That Hadacol (Side One)"
4. Leo Teel and his Teel Billies "He's Gazing At Daisy Roots Now"
5. Carol Chapell "I Married An Acrobat"
6. Two Leslies "I'm A Little Prairie Flower"
7. The Jesters - "I'm My Own Grandpa" [anyone know who does this version? UPDATE: thx to Our Pal Doug for identifying the band]
8. Four Lads "Istanbul" [yep, the tune They Might Be Giants scored with]
9. Al "Jazzbo" Collins "Jack And The Beanstalk"
10. Bob Pierce "King Of The Bungaloos"
11. Durium Dance Band "Let's All Be Fairies"
12. Two Leslies "Miss Porkington Would Like Cream Puffs"
13. International Novelty Orchestra with Billy Murray "Monkey Biz-ness (Down in Tennessee)" [GOTTA have some Billy Murray in any survey of 78s- he was the early 20th century's biggest recording star, and certainly one of the most prolific]
14. Edith Clifford "No Wonder She's a Blushing Bride"
15. Billy Jones & Ernest Hare (The Happiness Boys) "Old King Tut"
16. Winnie Lighter "Pingo Pongo"
17. Comedy Dance Orchestra "Rambling Wreck From Georgia Tech"
18. Unnatural Seven "Serutan Yob"
19. Carol Chapell "She Lost It"
20. Al "Jazzbo" Collins "Snow White And The Seven Dwarves"
Part 2 coming soon. A thousand thankyous, good sir Count!