punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Writer's Block: Your First Record

What was the first music album you ever bought or owned? Do you still listen to it or have you moved on?
The first album I even bought with my own money was "Circus Royale," a Rhino records compilation of some comedy that I got instead of "Dementia Royale," which they were out of and ended up getting later on. Funny, I just wrote a letter about this to my friend Neal. He sent me some sound samples, and here was my reply:

I will never understand why my parents "okayed" some of the stuff I listened to, but its one of the things I thank them for. I went from Peter Pan Records "Jaws of the Shark" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" to Dr. Demento/New Wave/Punk pretty fast. I really blame two people for my humor tastes: Dr. Demento and Neal Whitman (who once said about junk mail, with gritted teeth, "The S and W keys are too damn close on a typewriter..."). Neal was my cohort in crime in many comedic adventures. I owe him a lot. He was the Best Man at my wedding for a reason.

"Circus Royale" was bought by accident, sort of, while looking for their newly released "Dementia Royale," at a record store in DC. They didn't have Dementia, but they told me Circus was also pretty funny. It had "Fish Heads" and "Dead Puppies," so that seemed reasonable. I bought it and brought it home. If think real hard, I can remember the order of the tracks since I must have worn this record out listening to it over and over again.

It opened with "Mahtzo Man," by the Yiddish People, which was a Hasidic spoof of the Village People's "Macho Man" at the time. Good opener, as we say in sketch comedy. I grew up with a lot of Jewish kids, and I used to have neighbors who had Rabbis as relatives, so I understood the whole kosher/Yiddish in jokes at that age. Oy.

Then came "Me & My Vibrator" by... I think "Suzi Seacell," which I got the pun of "C-cell battery" right away. At age 10 going on 11, I sort of understood what was going on, but I always attest that "think of the children" perversion worries are vastly overrated. Did I picture a lonely woman with her legs in the air, squirming to the sensations of a plastic lover who, at best, was a shallow substitute for a man who truly loved her for who she was? Did my childhood "innocence" [snort] shatter upon hearing these dulcet tunes of a woman in the throes of an orgasm? Did I even know what an orgasm was? Not yet. I didn't see more to this song that someone who really liked her back massager. Like when songs of the era said "do it" I assumed "it" was kissing or something. I think "childhood innocence" is a huge joke at best, and a dangerous assumption most of the time, but that's another rant for another time.

"Wally Padrowski Accordian School," which I barely remember and I forgot the artist (I think some of these were produced in house by Rhino Records as padding), I had to listen to again to jog my memory. It was a forgettable spoof ad which I think was using "comparative/contrast" comedy that "Accordions do not equal sexy, ha ha ha, right?" Even as an adult, it still gets the kind of applause you give at your elementary school child's talent show when yet another kid sings "Tomorrow" about 2 keys off and 20 decibels too loud.

The next was "Recession Menu Mess Call," by the Brown Bag Blues Band. This had a kind of Shel Silverstein-like list call which only held my interest to see if I could memorize and repeat it (I do the same with "It's the End of the World as We Know It," by REM... "Leonard Bernstein!!"). The only thing I recall from this song was a very young Glen, who said with the enthusiasm of a typical 8 year old, "Neal, they said 'Scooter Pies!!!'" which stands out because Neal then had to explain what they were to me. Back in the late 1970s, Northern Virginia did not have this southern delicacy, which I have since had from time to time, and connect Glen to it in my memory to this day.

Who could forget "Fish Heads?" The next tune from Barnes and Barnes was THE staple song of my life at that time. Back then, this was considered "experimental punk," and the single itself was sold (no lie) as a fish-head shaped 45 rpm record. Awesome. I *highly* recommend their compilation CD, "Voobaha," and I still highly recommend their stuff. They have a website (http://www.voobaha.com/) and it's surreal to see them mention Youtube. This song had me look up "cappuccino" in the dictionary. "Rolly Polly fish heads are never seen drinking cappuccino in Italian restaurants with Oriental women. Yeeaahh!!!!"

"Beverly Hills Blues Festival," I think was next, another spoof ad. I didn't get this joke at the time, and I think the joke was "Blues festival for rich people?? HAW!" Sadly, this dates the joke, because people like BB King are now very wealthy.

Then came, "I'm The Creature From Outer Space," by Wild Man Jr. Now, I didn't care for Wild Man Fischer (I don't know if they are the same people, but they had the same style, I think I recall thinking this guy was a copycat), but I liked this bit because of the paltry threats he made, like "I am going to pull all your records out of their sleeves, put all your forks where your knives should be!" Like if a bully came to you and said, "I will hit you so hard, it'll mess up your shirt. I'll kick you until your pants legs get dirty!"

"Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by the KGB (?) Chicken, who may have been Rick Dees (aka "Disco Duck,") but I have forgotten. And thus, this song of chickens "bo boking" to the Rod Stewart disco classic should also be as forgotten as "Preparation A" through "G" were.

Then I think it was "Dead Puppies," Odgen Edsl's hit with everyone my age. "Ha ha! Dead Puppies are ironic because they aren't fun at all!" Trust me, at age 11, this is comedy cold. "We're going have him in the stew..." is just priceless, and on my record player, after the church organ crescendo, the record ends with the needle going in a clicking spiral because I didn't have an auto-return feature on my record player until I was 14 or so.

Then you flipped the record over. What more lies on the B side?

"Party Doll," by Big Daddy, like "Me and My Vibrator" earlier, was lost to me. I just assumed here was a lonely guy so desperate, he bought an inflatable girlfriend. The sex angle went right over my head, but I got the gist of the joke that this guy was pathetic to mail order an inflatable girlfriend, and thus the inevitable pop and deflation of said anti-loneliness device. The highlight for this song, for me, was the name "Mr. Nerdburger." However, upon listening to it again, I did laugh at some jokes at the end I never got as a kid. "Now what am I going to do with this black lace nightie and girl scout uniform? And who am I going to take to Las Vegas next month?" Haw.

I think the next track was "Soul Man" done to a kazoo. I forgot the artist for this one as well. I give them a golf clap, but nowadays, you can get all kinds of music done to the kazoo. And to me, since the kazoo is basically a humming amplifier, I am never impressed.

One that Neal should have included was "Sunday Sunday," the only spoof ad I think is poignant on this album. It's an ad for a church rally done like those announcers for NASCAR and any truck pull done at fairgrounds. To me, this symbolizes the mass-worship community on so many levels, I could write a dissertation on it.

Mal Sharpe was famous in the 1960s and 70s for his "on the spot" interviews where he carried around recording equipment and asked people totally ridiculous questions like they were serious. This was funnier back in the day when people were not exposed to weirdness as much as they are now, so "Diaper People," which was an interview of random people about a "womb regression" therapy session, generated some pretty strange replies. The only one I recall off the top of my head was sme crazy dude with an urban accent (he pronounced diaper, "Di-pol") who not only got into this concept, but tried to sell others on it. He just ran with it. Not as funny today, I'd think, but in the 1970s, it was as funny as "Candid Camera."

Continuing with the "Yiddish people are FUNNY, am I right?" was "Hound Dog," by Gefilte Joe and The Fish. Someone tried to mix Elvis with the schmaltz of Mel Brooks... and failed.

The ride ended with "Stick With Captain Sticky," which I recall was a spoof of a lot of records I had as a kid. Seriously, Captain Sticky could have had a Peter Pan album with no ironic intentions. And as I listen to this song for the first time in maybe 20 years, I think there's a private joke I am not getting. Like he was a local DJ persona or something. The peanut better gun reference... eludes me. I can't think of any obvious double entendre except maybe bukake (do NOT Google that term at work), but that's a stretch. This song is still lost to me.

This album influenced my life as much as some of the albums that Neal shared with me of his own. Because of him, Justin Wilson was not a cook to me, but a former stand up cajun comedian (man, if you can get some of those albums to mp3, I will pay you). Also an influence at this time was Bob Newhart's "one side of the conversation" comedy, Woody Allen's stand up ("My grandmother was raped by Cossacks"), George Carlin, Monty Python, and Cheech and Chong's drug humor.

I later bought "Dementia Royale" as well, which had a Star Trek skit called "Star Drek" (by Bobby Pickett and Peter Ferrara, known also for "The Monster Mash") that was so funny, it still is one of the few things I heard as a kid that literally, as in to-the-word literally and not "I meant literally as in a lot," fell on the floor with laughter. I still use the phrase, "I tried shoving a wiener in the warp drive, but it didn't do a bit of good," at work (I work in a data center, might as well be the bridge of the enterprise except there are no green aliens to fall in love with), and follow up, "By the by, do you happen to have a wee bit of mustard up on the bridge?" if I am feeling really punchy.

Thanks again, Neal, for jogging my memory of this album.


Turns out "Captain Sticky" was a real guy who fought crime and corruption in a super suit:


Billing himself as the world's only real-life super-hero, Captain Sticky was a fixture of the early San Diego cons. He operated out of that city, driving around in his Stickymobile (a highly-customized Lincoln Continental), functioning as a flamboyant crusader, mostly for consumer rights. For a few years there, he often appeared on the news, battling various injustices that ranged from nursing home abuse to auto mechanic rip-offs. As I understood it, he got results largely by just showing up at the crime scene. He was one of those colorful characters that no reporter could resist. So if he pulled up outside your business, so did the TV cameras...and if you had a lick of sense, you'd just correct whatever he thought needed correction.

And his obit:

Neal aslo SWEARS I knew what a vibrator was for, and what an orgasm was at that age. Go me!

My first *ROCK* album was the B-52's, "Meet the B-52s." I got also it because of Dr. Demento. No regrets. Someday, I hope to visit Planet Claire.
Tags: writer's block
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