Thursday, April 19, 2018

DICKIE GOODMAN Boris Karloff Monster Mash into A HARD DAY’S NIGHT

    Dickie Goodman’s birthday is today (April 19, 1934) but he’s not around to make jokes about it. Let’s not dwell on his self-inflicted ending (November 6, 1989) . For many decades, he did his best to cheer up people with ridiculous “break-in” novelty singles and, now and then, peculiar “concept” albums that involved his own singing skills.

    One of the first artists to challenge copyright rules on “sampling,” Goodman and his then-partner Bill Buchanan offered up an indie single called “The Flying Saucer” in 1956, which, love it or detest it, involved using fragments of popular songs as punchlines. Goodman’s main schtick was the fake news interview, his voice a kind of Jewish version of Walter Winchell. 

    Billboard charged “The Flying Saucer” at #3 and while he would never get to #1, Goodman kept on going and going, with, eventually an entire set of Walter Winchell singles…all keyed to Winchell’s role as narrator of TV’s “The Untouchables.” These were: “The Touchables,” “The Touchables in Brooklyn” and “Santa and the Touchables,” which all landed in the Top 100. 

    Goodman did try to break away from sampling now and then.  “Russian Bandstand” was a “what if American Bandstand was broadcast in Communist Russia” notion, and issued as “Spencer and Spencer” with new partner Mickey Shorr). 

    One of his early non-break-in albums was “My Son the Joke.” Along with Stan Ross, who put out a similar album of Jewish novelty tunes, the idea was to grab off some of the sales Allan Sherman was enjoying. Figuring that sex sells, and that doity Jewish comedy (ala Belle Barth and Pearl Williams) would not be something Sherman would ever try, Dickie offered up songs on everything from menstruation (“Red River Sally”) to “Harry’s Jockstrap,” an overt twist on Sherman’s “Sarah Jackman.” 

    Below is “Balling my Zelda,” typical of that album. Dickie didn’t grab all the same public domain folk songs that Allan used. “Balling my Zelda” is of course based on “Waltzing Matilda,” which Sherman never quite got around to messing with. Allan’s “My Zelda” is based on the Harry Belafonte calypso hit “Matilda.” 

    Through the 60’s and 70’s, almost any hot news subject or movie got a cash-in tweak from Dickie Goodman. This included the Nixon slam “Watergrate,” a novelty single on the “Energy Crisis” and when the movie “Jaws” was a hit, there he was, doing “Mr. Jaws.” A few years later, out came “Kong,” keyed to a remake of “King Kong.” All of this stuff got into the Billboard Top 100 in the 70’s, and “Mr. Jaws” actually hit #4, his best showing in nearly 20 years.  

    Apparently in 1980 Dickie recorded “The Monster Album,” which was obviously ill-timed to any current trend. I would’ve thought he recorded it back in 1964, when it would’ve been a fairly fresh and commercial idea. That’s when the craze for monster comedy peaked. It grew with “Monster Rally” on RCA and “Spike Jones in Stereo” on Warners, led to Bobby “Boris" Pickett's huge hit “Monster Mash” for Garpax. Below, “A Hard Days Night” done with the Karloff narration style that made Bobby “Boris” Pickett a star. 

    Thanks to Rhino, which specialized in promoting a lot of offbeat novelty stuff, Goodman was finally off his indie labels (such as Wacko), and hoping for a return to glory. No, “Return of the Jedi Returns” in 1983 did not do it for him, and by 1987, he was back to financing his own singles and releasing “Safe Sex Report” via Goodname, which he thought was a good name. Debts and depression overcame him, age 55, and it just wasn’t very funny. 

    A few years later, and nostalgic Demento-types were hunting up every 45 rpm single on all his bizarre indie labels from Luniverse to Rainy Wednesday, with some 78's fetching big eBay bucks. CDs, authorized or not, began to offer cleaned up, good quality versions of those manic old break-in numbers. His son Jon was instrumental in pushing for Dickie’s fair share of fame and honors as a pioneer of novelty singles.  While much of what Dickie did is now dated, and most people don’t get all the break-in recognition humor references, there are still a lot of people out there who are in his groove. And they wish he was around to hear a heartfelt “Happy Birthday, you wacko.”

Hard Days Night - Karloff Style - download or listen online - no Zinfart passwords no misdrection links no Russian yaddiyadda

Allan Sherman going dirty? BALLING MY ZELDA

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