Friday, June 19, 2009


You know Ron Moody...the guy who played Fagin in the musical "Oliver," a performance enjoyed by antisemites everywhere. Ron also had the lead (opposite a very young Frank Langella) in the Mel Brooks cult classic "The 12 Chairs," a performance enjoyed by semites everywhere. That evens it out.

Before this international acclaim, Moody was a variety favorite in his native England, where he made his revue debut in 1953. He appeared in various Myers & Cass (they issued one album in America) productions including "For Amusement Only." He had his own TV show, and with demand mounting, recorded the obscure "Move Along Sideways" album. Modern listeners will note its similarities to the solo work of Peter Sellers at that time. Sellers had a hit with a very strange album combining sketches and musical parody. Thanks to his vocal prowess, the at times subtle (if not downright weak) script didn't matter. Much.

Similarly, the producers of Ron Moody's album seemed to have relied on Ron's manic vocal dexterity more than a sharp script. Sellers was put in the hands of a first-rate music director, and Mr. Moody was given an ace, too, in Johnny Gregory, someone who could handle all song styles being parodied.

The album notes don't mention anything about where these songs came from, just a long, unfunny recollection on how the record label and Moody's people met at a bistro to discuss the project. "I like Avocado better than the whole meal." "A great fruit." "Must be ripe though." "Take it in the palms and if it yields slightly to pressure it's ready...How can they make a profit serving both halves of the Avocado to each customer?"

This album probably went out of print a week after it was issued, but it wouldn't be hard to find by checking the usual on-line dealers or local used record stores. They'd be happy (if not astonished) to sell it, and wonder what kind of weird mood (and Moody) prompted it.

"When You Walk Upon a Stage," finds Ron wandering around a theater and in parody of those "no business but show business" songs Merman and Durante used to sing, starts doing impressions of Al Jolson and others.

The other sample is "Johnny Guitar." This requires more explanation than anyone, probably including Moody, could give. Succinctly, it's a manic send-up of a guy trying to learn the day's popular music (mostly folk) to impress someone (anyone). For some reason, everybody the guy meets speaks in the high voice Senor Wences used for his (literal) hand puppet Johnny...only with a Jewish accent.

Now you're on your own.

WHEN YOU WALK UPON A STAGE Instant download, no wait period, pop-ups or pestiness.

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