Thursday, October 22, 2009
I first heard of song-poems (and heard my first one, "How Long Are You Staying"), when Dr. Demento mentioned the genre in 1993. By the time I got around to trying to order that first compilation album, it was out of print, but instead, I got the second volume (and first CD), "The Makers of Smooth Music". And my first favorite song-poem, by a wide margin, was "The Watusi Whing-Ding Girl".
The insane sound of the track - I had no idea it was a one-man band at the time - had me wondering "what the hell is going on here?" I loved the sound of the Chamberlain, the fact that the drumming was rarely in the same song as the rest of the performance, the melody of the thing, the soulful vocal (with its cracking on one note) and the insane solo section.
While I've never been lucky enough to find a copy of that 45, I have recently been lucky enough to find and purchase a close relative of the performance, and not only that, it overlaps with one of my favorite song-poem stories, that of Norridge Mayhams. For this is a Mayhams Collegiate record, credited to "Variety Joe", but clearly (on the A side anyway), Rodd Keith, in his Film City guise of one man band Rod Rogers.
And while this performance is not as off-the-deep-end winningly bizarre as "Watusi...", it's in the same ballpark. Rod has used some of the same backing settings, including that drumbeat, which for some odd reason, plays the fill every FIVE bars, and in the middle of a measure, at that. Not only that, the drums again get completely off the beat with the rest of the track, and the solo section is again messed up - I think there's an edit in there. And of course, there is the fact that we're being encouraged to do a dance step named "The Rattlesnakin' Mama". Everyone groove!
The other side seems to feature a different vocalist, one I'm not familiar with, although the backing track seems very likely to be another Rod Rogers' special. I love the deep vibrato on that one setting that recurs throughout.
While you're enjoying "You Left Me Honey Honey", particularly the distinctive yelp near the end, please also notice that the songwriter credits on the two sides are different, and yet each is a name used regularly by Norridge Mayhams. Also enjoy Mr. Mayhams' record label design, which is one of my favorites, one which is far better than most of the designs used by major labels over the years.