Thursday, September 19, 2013

$63 Single: "INTERVIEW OF THE FAB FOUR" by HARV MOORE

Who'd pay $63 for a novelty single? Some kind of moron?

Maybe a Moore-on, a fan of legendary Washington D.C. disk jockey Harv Moore.

As remarkable as it seems in this age of mp3 downloads, there still can be two or three vinyl fanatics fighting each other on eBay to get that rarity still untouched by Spotify or the Unholy Three of iTunes eMusic and Amazon. There are some "old school" folks out there who love the ritual of playing a single on a "victrola." There are also just some "old fools" out there who have nothing better to do than get excited over eBay auctions and boot sales.

In this case, the added allure might be that this was (eeh, ah, oh, ooooh!) a white label pressing. Yes, in the world of the true vinyl collector, it's not uncommon to spend big bucks on something you already have, because THIS is the foreign pressing, the promo copy, or the senile bidder forgot which storage box contained the one he already bought. But oh, the joy of having had enough disposable income to beat out some other disposable old bidder!

I keed, I keed. I know the feeling...triumphing (that's a pun, Smigel fans) over somebody on eBay. Why, sometimes I've triumphed over nobody but myself. NOBODY ELSE wanted that super rare 45 rpm? Hey, that doesn't make me an idiot, just a fucking connoisseur! And do I "share" with others? Indeed...that item might end up right here, for NOBODY ELSE to download!

No, I KEED again...and predict there will be plenty to download THIS rarity. Which is?

A "break in." This is one of the strangest categories in novelty singles; it's even more peculiar than a fondness for collecting vocals by The Chipmunks, Nutty Squirrels and other faux-fuzzy creatures, as well as speeded up vocalists pretending to be space aliens and bugs. Pioneered by Dickie Goodman back in 1956, the idea, never really changing, is for an interviewer to do a news report and ask questions of people...who turn out to be famous pop stars or vocal groups who answer via a snatch of their current hit song. When I was a kid, I found this very clever. The smiles came from "recognition humor." In the case of Dickie Goodman, he also had a moronic voice which added to the corny fun.

By the time the Beatles invaded, Goodman was STILL churning out successful break-ins, as were a few copycats.

Harv Moore was a disc jockey at WPGC (Washington, D.C. from 1963 to 1975). He witnessed first-hand the Liverpool invasion, and The Beatles doing a local concert. He recalled that doing a Beatles knock-off was the idea of Bobby Poe, the Sun Records rockabilly star ("Bobby Poe and The Poe Kats"). Poe had moved on to manage The Chartbusters and also concentrate on songwriting: "I met Bobby in the Spring of '64. He had a hit with The Chartbusters' "She's The One." Bobby and I wrote the script to 'Interview', and we recorded it at Edgewood Studios in DC…."

Leave it to Mr. Poe to finish the tale of woe: "We sold the master to the American Arts Recording Company, which at the time was the record label of British invasion superstars Chad & Jeremy. It was a Dickie Goodman-style track where Harv pretended to interview The Beatles and their responses would be little snippets from their songs….it was very funny, it took off like a rocket…" Within two weeks, the record company was prepared to press a half-million copies, judging that they were going to have a national hit. But, Bobby explains, "Brian Epstein immediately killed the single by threatening to sue. In a way, American Arts was fortunate that they did not have to pay for the 500,000 copies since they had not been pressed yet. In a rush to release the record, the label hadn't secured the rights to use any of the various bits of Beatles' songs that were included on the single. Another hit down the tubes!"

While there would be no more Moore break-in singles, Dickie Goodman kept going with them for another two decades. Unlike Harv's single, Dickie never issued one that featured only clips of one artist. Goodman, inventing new names for his self-pressed indie record companies (Luniverse, Rainy Wednesday, Goodname, Comic, Wacko, Mark X etc.) kept on dodging irked record labels and artists, trying for topical comedy hits.

Happily you don't HAVE to spend big for his singles. They've been collected on CD's and are even on Spotify. Not that they sell too well, mostly because the Demento-obsessed nerds who should support this generally small-press niche market are too unsightly to go to record stores. They tend to either be obese, or scrawny near-midgets. Many of these sexually forlorn childlike misfits have found their way on line...where they adopt "wild and crazy" names to use in forums. These usually involve farts or any word that they think sounds hilarious with "Doctor" or "Captain" in front of it...along with maybe an animated gif of the bouncing boobies they never see in real life. These people are so unemployable, therefore cheap, they have to swap copies with each other. But back in the days before the Internet killed comedy records and novelty singles, Goodman was still hoping to get a dollar for the Nixon yocker "Watergrate" (1973), and various movie parodies Mr. Jaws (1975), Star Warts (1977) and Hey, T.T. (1982). He issued "Safe Sex Report" in 1987, a year before he killed himself.

As for Harv Moore, when his radio station was bought by a new owner who wasn't a fan, he wisely studied other options. His ex-boss now owned WPHD in Buffalo, so Harv moved up to New York to do a morning show co-hosted with Robert W. Taylor, which lasted through 1989. As one might expect from a morning disc jockey with a prank sense of humor, he told jokes about "The Land of Fa," and the king who ruled it. Yep, the Fa King...a variation on the old joke-name the Fakawi Indians. Johnny Carson had used that one till the censors got wise. The name was sanitized into "Hekawi" for the sitcom "F-Troop" (the punchline as a rival tribe tries to locate them: "Where the Hekawi?") In 1989 the station changed its call letters to WUFX and made a lot of other changes…including the removal of Moore and Taylor. Moore freelanced in and out of the radio world and then from 1998 until his retirement in 2007 worked for Buffalo's WHTT station doing an oldies show. Wonder if he ever dusted off the grooves on the grammatically questionable "Interview of [not with?] the Fab Four." Maybe Epstein's cease from 1965 still had him desisting. OK, Brian, COME AND GET ME! Here's the download of a VG pressing (same grade as the one on eBay) of a banned near-hit.

HARV MOORE INTERVIEW OF THE FAB FOUR

1 comment:

Bobby Poe said...

It's great to see this after all those years. The aforementioned Bobby Poe was my father.