CD Rock Review


Title: 28 Classic U.S. Novelties

Label: Jasmine

Another crazy selection of crazy tunes of a novelty nature – we’ve been in this territory before, of course. Many will be familiar but many more will not be. In fact, there’s a goodly few rarities amongst this 28 track CD.

The notion of the novelty song stretches back to Vaudeville in the USA and Music Hall in the UK and beyond. It has always provided an easily accessible, highly entertaining and immediately popular source of music for all. Adding musical hooks as well as easily remembered lyrics to be repeated ad nauseam on the street after any performance, the novelty song is also of social interest because it provides a gauge to the sensibilities of society at the time of its creation while – often – sticking two large fingers up to any notion of political correctness.

Of course, if you wanted to get contemporary airplay for your record then you’d need to tone down the offensive lyrics a tad, even if one or two artists failed to judge taste correctly. Here, you can find Screaming Jay Hawkins singing about his girlfriend’s own particular ‘perfume’ called Armpit No.6, for example.

Some novelties have actually been technologically forward thinking – although few might thank them for it. Take David Seville’s Witch Doctor which introduced the listener to speeded up voices on a record. Seville would return with the Chipmunks to irritate the hell out of music listeners for many years.


The Coasters

Most novelty songs treaded a careful line and played for laughs. One of the best arrived with The Coasters and Leiber-Stoller’s own Along Came Jones which used a humorous background to hold a genuinely admirable musical single.

Some ditties are just odd, though, in their very conception. Witness Jimmy Jones’ Lone Ranger Gonna Git Married with its drunken guitar solo.

There’s a host of other ‘star’ items here including Larry Verne’s Mr Custer, Bert Covey’s The Gorilla and Lonnie Russ’ My Wife Can’t Cook to delight and mystify. A CD you’ll want to play out of sheer curiosity.

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