Folks often ask me if living with Dr. Demento is crazy. I think the best way to answer that question is to describe some of the things he does at home.
Most people work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. But not the Doc. Sometimes he works up to 60 hours or more -- often listening to new crazy music that people send him, answering mail, listening to phone requests, putting together the Dr. D. radio show, maintaining his record library, and researching the latest music industry news. Whew! Sounds like a hectic schedule, right?
Well, sometimes it seems that way. But more often than not, it's fun. He really gets a kick out of all his musical tasks.
And who knows what sounds lurk from his musical laboratory? Occasionally, it's downright strange. For instance, late in the night, before Halloween, it's like we live in Frankenstein's castle. The groans, squeaks, gurgles and screams are really eerie.
During the holiday season we get jolly and weird by hearing the multitude of demented Christmas discs as he readies them for the show. Why, it makes me want to run out and buy wacky gifts for our friends and relatives!
There are always all the other holidays to get demented to, including the booms and bangs of the 4th of July, Easter bunnies hopping through the house and smoochy-kissy sounds around Valentine's Day.
Dr. Demento does almost all of his own editing work, taping many of his rare discs and 78's before he takes them to Westwood One to do the show. That way they are ready & "listenable" for all his fellow dementites and fans. Robert Young, the Doc's producer at Westwood One, tells me that many of the folks at Westwood One consider Doc quite a scholar of musicology. They turn to him when nobody else knows the answer to their "noteworthy" questions.
It's fun to go to parties when Dr. D. gets dressed up in his top hat & tails. Of course, everyone stares, and he gets recognized more often than not. He's asked the most unusual questions you could ever imagine...like..."What is 'Weird Al' Yankovic really like?"
He never minds signing autographs -- and do people stare at the unusual way he does it! When he was a tiny tot of a Dr., he taught himself how to write. To this day I could swear he writes upside down and backward with his right hand, yet when he finishes signing his name it looks great...legible and even.
One huge task that my husband undertook recently is signing all the record covers on the back of the boxed set of his "Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Hits of All Times" comedy series. To date, he has signed many thousands of sets. In fact, he still signs groups of them frequently! So, if you see one in the record store today and haven't bought it...take a look. Each boxed set has an authentic autograph on the back.
A lot of people ask me what the Doc does to relax. Yes, the Dr. does enjoy "kicking back" once in a while, too. For recreational listening he has a vast collection of undemented discs in his library. He often chooses to play very old blues or jazz records, many of which date back to the 20's or earlier. He also has many old and new classical music pieces to play.
What may surprise you is that the Dr. frequently enjoys the very newest tunes in rock, pop and country. Since he likes all kinds of music, it's impossible to name individual artists, or to predict what he will be listening to on any given day. One thing you can be sure of, though...it'll always be different! The Doc has so many selections he rarely listens to the same tunes over & over!
You must be thinking by now..."Wow! It has to be fun to be Dr. Demento. All those records!" And if you asked him, I bet he'd say yes. But remember...you just might get lost in stacks and stacks of laughing wax. From the house that dementia built, this is Mrs. Dr. Demento saying goodbye for now (and you guessed it) STAY DEMENTED!
A busy spring in the Land of Dementia was highlighted by several Very Interesting People who visited the show for interviews.
I'd been trying to get Ray Stevens on the show for quite some time. After all, the man has had more novelty hit singles in recent times than any other artist, in a career spanning more than 25 years -- from "Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills" in 1961 to "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?" in 1987. In a reflective, revealing interview, Ray talked about his early love for rhythm & blues music, the genesis of his #1 hit "The Streak," and his recent return to humorous material after several years of doing "straight" country music, along with many other subjects.
The very next week, Emo Philips came by for a totally different sort of interview, a thoroughly non-linear encounter in which Emo answered every question with an outrageous one-liner (if not a whole comedy routine). Emo's mind is as thoroughly non-conformist as his wardrobe (and just as colorful).
Tim Cavanagh's songs ("99 Dead Baboons," "I Wanna Kiss Her," "The ABC's of Dead Russian Leaders") have been very popular with Dementites lately, and he shared some highly amusing new tunes with us when he stopped by in June, visiting from his native Chicago.
Monkeemania came to the Land of Dementia in July as Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Mickey Dolenz spent a wild hour with us, celebrating the release of two new albums of previously unreleased 1960s recordings, and the start of their 3 1/2 month summer tour with "Weird Al" Yankovic. All three are very knowledgeable in the field of Demented Discs -- Davy, for instance, picked a real gem from his native England, "The Laughing Policeman" by Charles Penrose, recorded in 1926 -- and judging by the interview, if The Monkees ever run out of songs, they could do very well as a comedy troupe. Davy left us with a copy of his lively new autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me.
We took our demented microphones down the road to Paramount Studios where Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello were finishing up their new film, Back to the Beach. Annette and Frankie spent a very pleasant hour with us backstage, talking about the new movie (which includes a scene with Pee Wee Herman, singing the all-time Demented favorite "Surfin' Bird") and, of course, their delightful films (Beach Blanket Bingo) and record hits of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Annette told us how she first became a Mouseketeer, and Frankie told us the story behind a couple of the rarest items in the Demento Archives, two 78's of virtuoso trumpet solos he recorded at the age of eleven.
In February the Dr. Demento Show moved to a new "flagship" station in Los Angeles -- after more than fourteen years on KMET, the legendary rock & roll station whose recent demise was a primary inspiration for Roger Waters' new concept album, Radio K.A.O.S. KMET was an institution and an inspiration, but I've found a very happy new home among old friends at the highly successful "classic rock" station KLSX (97.1 FM).
You might have chanced to hear me elsewhere on Live From L.A., a unique radio program in which DJs from all over the world interview Hollywood celebrities on shows beamed back to the DJ's home bases by satellite. I've shown up on the tube a time or two as well; Entertainment This Week visited the Demento Archives in January, and you'll see me in the early fall on a new syndicated show called Fan Club.
The only thing I haven't had a chance to do this year is travel...but until I get an opportunity to see you all in person, we'll keep the demented hits a-spinning!
KLOV FM OLIVIA MN WFTS FM ROCKFORD IL WBKY FM MARQUET MI WKSG FM DETROIT MI WBUQ FM BLOOMSBERG PA WKPL FM DUBUQUE IA KNNG FM STERLING CO WBYR FM BUFFALO NY WMUC AM/FM WASHINGTON DC KFMU FM STEAMBOAT SPRINGS CO KZBK FM BROOKFIELD MO WZND CABLE NORMAL IL KZFL FM ZAPATA TX WKAI FM MACOMB IL KGAL AM ALBANY NY WFRM FM COUVERSPORT PA WZIX FM COLUMBUS MO WNPQ FM CANTER OH WERC FM TOLEDO OH WMHD FM TERRE HAUTE IN WTIX AM NEW ORLEANS LA WBRU FM PROVIDENCE RI WXRY FM HILTON HEAD SC KOAS FM KEALAJEKUA HI
(continued from last issue)
The second season of Monty Python's television career, considered by many Pythonophiles to be the group's all-time creative peak, introduced such delights as John Cleese's "silly walks," the "Spanish Inquisition" business, the famous sketch about the beer-swilling Australian university professors all named Bruce, and an especially outrageous piece in which John Cleese brings his mother's corpse to an undertaker (Graham Chapman) who suggests various eccentric ways of disposing of the remains, including eating them.
This did not sit well with certain executives of the BBC, not to mention the self-appointed censors in various walks of British life. From that day forward Monty Python had to do unceasing battle with those who sought to tone down its humor or silence it altogether. An entire book has been published concerning this aspect of Python's career.
In 1971 came Monty Python's first film, named for the catchphrase that had opened their very first telecast and appeared frequently thereafter: And Now For Something Completely Different.
For Monty Python it wasn't that different; it was simply highlights from the first two years of TV shows, rather hurriedly re-shot on 35-millimeter film for theatrical showing, primarily aimed at the American college audience. The group was not particularly happy with the results, and the film was not a great success, but it did convince the Pythons to take greater control of their own destiny.
For one thing, they made their own record deal with the independent Charisma label. Their next two LP's, Another Monty Python Record (1971) and Monty Python's Previous Record (1972) were their finest, containing such immortalities as "Spam," "Argument Clinic," "Eric the Half a Bee," "Travel Agency" and the aforementioned undertaker sketch, plus quite a bit of language they could not have used on television.
The third TV season, which like the others consisted of only a dozen half-hour shows, ran from October 1972 to January 1973. Though the programs don't show it in any way, they were not as much fun to do as the earlier ones. The members had to struggle a bit to come up with fresh ideas, and the group meetings where these ideas were accepted or rejected became acrimonious at times. Plus, there was the constant war over content with the BBC, now in the hands of more conservative executives. There was a new adventure afterward, though: Monty Python's first live appearance tour, which took them to many cities in England and then Canada before winding up at the large, very prestigious Drury Lane theatre in London, where a live album was recorded. It was during this tour, on an airplane, that John Cleese declared he would do no more BBC half-hours with Monty Python.
The other five did a fourth limited series anyway, six programs in late 1974. But the Pythons' major adventure that year was their second feature film, a vast improvement on the first: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. All six Pythons participated, including Cleese; Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam directed. It has to do with a medieval crusade in which the crusaders meet some very weird people and talk in a wondrous wealth of anachronisms. It was shot in those uncomfortable country locations (in Scotland this time) that Terry Jones had always loved. The budget was low (the crusaders walked because Python Productions couldn't afford horses, so 'tis said) but the profits were high; its release coincided with the burgeoning of the Monty Python cult in America, spearheaded by airings of the BBC-TV shows on public television stations (and helped along, possibly, by the Dr. Demento Show, which was nationally syndicated for the first time in 1974.)
From that point on the history of Monty Python has been intermittent, if glorious. All six members have enjoyed success to one degree or another in non-Python projects, while coming together periodically for record albums, tours and films (most recently Monty Python's Meaning of Life, 1983).
To briefly summarize the more outstanding non-Python projects: John Cleese starred in Fawlty Towers, two hugely acclaimed short series for BBC-TV (six programs each in 1975 and 1979) in which Cleese is the cranky, bumbling hotel operator Basil Fawlty. Graham Chapman wrote a remarkable book, A Liar's Autobiography (Methuen, 1980) in which he speaks frankly of his homosexuality (he's the only one in the group) and his recovery from alcoholism, and very fancifully about many other things. Eric Idle collaborated with Neil Innes on Rutland Weekend Television, two short BBC-TV series (1975 and 1976) about a small-town TV station. This was an ancestor of Canada's famous SCTV, and more directly of The Rutles, a fictionalized documentary/satire loosely but very cleverly based on the Beatles' career. Idle also guest-hosted Saturday Night Live. Terry Gilliam has blossomed into a major film director, starting with the uneven Jabberwocky (1977) and moving on to the very successful Time Bandits (1981) and the difficult but critically acclaimed Brazil (1985). Michael Palin appeared in all of Gilliam's films plus The Rutles. Terry Jones wrote a good book about a lifelong obsession, medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer; otherwise, he hasn't done quite as much as some of the others, but is credited with being the greatest impetus toward getting Monty Python back together for their subsequent group projects.
The next such project was a 1976 stage show at New York's City Center, recorded for an album. In 1979 came perhaps the most famous (and certainly the most infamous) of Python's films, Monty Python's Life of Brian. It has to do with a luckless fellow named Brian, played by Graham Chapman, who was born at the same time as Jesus Christ in a manger just down the road, and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah by the Three Wise Men among many others. Like Holy Grail it derives much of its humor from incredible anachronisms. At the end Eric Idle sings "Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life" during a mass crucifixion scene.
Needless to say this project was completed in the face of strenuous opposition. The studio that originally agreed to finance the picture backed out abruptly. The finances were ultimately provided by ex-Beatle George Harrison and his business partner Denis O'Brien.
The stage called again in 1980, as all six Pythons plus Carol Cleveland, Neil Innes and Pamela Stephenson performed four shows at the Hollywood Bowl, doing many of their old favorite sketches and songs plus some new ones which also showed up that year on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.
And finally we come to Monty Python's Meaning of Life, the 1983 feature film. It's a collection of sketches filmed on a grand scale, with something to offend everyone from Michael Palin's devastating satire of the Catholic Church's views on birth control ("Every Sperm is Sacred") to the one with Terry Jones as Mr. Creosote, the obese restaurant patron who orders one of everything from the pompous waiter (Cleese) and proceeds to vomit the lot, covering everything in sight.
To date that's the end of the Monty Python story. There's no evidence at hand of a reunion in the works. The members are all past forty now, and generally busy with other things, but fans still haven't given up hope of a pleasant surprise in the future. The films, all on home video, the records and books remain to delight us, I imagine forever.
Acknowledgements to Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam, who greatly enlivened the Land of Dementia with their visits for interviews between 1979 and 1981, and to George Perry's hard-to-find but fine paperback Life of Python (Little, Brown & Co., 1983) without which this profile would have been lacking numerous important details. The book about Python's troubles with the censors, mentioned earlier, is Monty Python: The Case Against by Robert Hewison (Grove Press, 1981).
Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC Records import - 1970). Priceless sketches from the first year on BBC-TV. "Flying Sheep," "Buying a Bed," "The Visitors," "Trade Description Act" (aka "Crunchy Frog"), and especially "Pet Shop" (the dead parrot sketch in its definitive performance). Out of print in the USA but fairly easy to find in the import bins. Now available also as an import CD.
Another Monty Python Record (1971). This is the one which looks like a classical album with the original artwork defaced and the Monty Python title written over it in crayon. The cover gives not a clue to the specific contents, but they include "Spam," "Architect Sketch," "Penguin On the TV," "Still No Sign of Land," and the famous undertaker sketch. On the Charisma label, and shamefully out of print; it was available through the 70s in the U.S. on the Charisma and Kama Sutra labels, so used copies may turn up now and then. The U.S. and British versions differ slightly.
Monty Python's Previous Record (1972). An indescribable cover with an elongated blue object wrapped around it, once again giving no clue to the contents. They include "Argument Clinic," "Eric the Half a Bee," "Travel Agency" and "Miss Ann Elk. " Availability: same as previous item, with which it was combined for awhile as a U.S. double album.
The Monty Python Tie and Handkerchief (1973). More mystery contents, this time including "Bruces" and "Cheese Shop." Overall, a shade less great than the first three, but a lot more readily available, as an Arista mid-line (budget) album. Most LP copies have a "double-groove" so you get a different sequence of cuts depending on exactly where you set the needle down on the record's edge.
Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (1974). This album contains the first (and best) recorded "Lumberjack Song." Otherwise it's mostly live retakes of cuts from the first four LPs, plenty of fun but generally just a shade off the brilliance of the originals. Never released in the U.S., it turns up sporadically as an import. It was released, and very successfully, in Canada.
The Album Of the Soundtrack Of the Trailer Of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) . Like their subsequent soundtrack albums, it doesn't hold up to repeated playing as well as the studio sketch albums, but it's a great souvenir of the picture and contains the wonderful "Camelot" song. Widely available in the U.S. on Arista.
Monty Python Live at City Center (1976). Their New York live show. Comes close to being a "greatest hits" album, though as with Drury Lane, the timing is sometimes a bit off compared with the originals. On Arista Records.
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). Well worth having if only for "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life." Warner Bros. Records.
Monty Python's Contractrual Obligation Album (1980). Well up to the standard of the first three LP's, with more music than any other Python album. "Sit On My Face," "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song On the Radio," "I Like Chinese." Look for copies with "Farewell to John Denver" which had to be removed due to legal action. Arista Records.
Monty Python Instant Record Collection. The British edition (Charisma label, 1977) and the American (Arista, 1981) are altogether different; both are good greatest-hits compilations.
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). As with other soundtracks, you probably won't need this if you have a VCR, but there's quite a few nice musical numbers including "Every Sperm is Sacred" and "Galaxy Song." MCA Records.
As I've often said, the only truly bad records are boring records, a variety I take great pains to avoid playing on my show at any time.
However, there have appeared from time to time a few highly unique recordings which, while not boring, are a very long ways from being good by any conventional musical definition of that term -- recordings whose very incompetence (real or simulated) evokes often-uncontrollable hilarity. They're the musical (?) equivalents of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Welcome to the Audio Torture Chamber, where we stand in the fearsome presence of these recordings -- but only for one minute at a time; this form of dementia is very dangerous in larger doses. We don't visit the Chamber every week, either, because recordings like this just don't come along that often (fortunately, many would say!) We welcome, however, listeners' nominations for future Audio Torture Chamber experiences.
We've been awaiting this new Demented Disc from Canada most eagerly, ever since "Last Will and Temperament," "Human Race," "You Were Speeding" and several other brilliant sketches from the Frantics' previous album became huge favorites with Dementites and Dementoids everywhere.
Boot To the Head is everything we could have asked for and more -- the funniest album of sketch comedy we've heard in years. The title track -- the group's theme song, combined with a martial-arts sketch carrying on the Boot-To-the-Head motif first heard on "Last Will and Temperament" -- has already hit #1 on our Funny Five. Other standout sketches include "You People Are Fat, " "Bill from Bala" and "Driving Chicks Mad."
The Frantics (Paul Chato, Rick Green, Dan Redican and Peter Wildman) won their first fame with a series of half-hour shows on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio network. They moved to CBC-TV two years ago; several episodes from their CBC-TV shows were shown on Showtime cable in 1986. The only thing wrong with their two albums is that they haven't been released in the USA as yet! The first one, made primarily for Canadian radio stations, is hardly available anywhere, but the new one (on Attic Records, a major Canadian label) is readily available throughout Canada, and USA Dementites are advised to be on the lookout for copies smuggled across the border.
"Beastie Wrap" --
The Utensils (Erika ERB-1001, 12" EP)
"Beastie Wrap," a sardonic putdown of the big bad Beastie Boys, appeared at the height of Beastiemania and quickly became a Funny Five favorite. The lyrics examine the Beastie phenomenon with much the same withering scorn that Stan Freberg brought to his 1950s satires on early rock 'n' roll ("Sh-Boom," "Heartbreak Hotel," "The Old Payola Roll Blues.") Like many contemporary 12" releases, this one contains five different "mixes" of the same piece. Along with the "Radio Mix" which has been heard on the Dr. Demento Show, the "Beer Mix" (consisting largely of burps and belches) is outstanding. The 12" may be ordered ($4 postpaid) from Erika Records, P.O. Box 312, Bellflower, CA 90706.
The two talented gentlemen who make up The Utensils have one other release, a 7" 45 which is even more creative than the "Wrap" in my opinion: "Bop" c/w "Willie and the Hand Jive, " available for $3 postpaid from Beat Brothers Records, 4067 Hardwick St., Lakewood, CA 90712.
The Utensils have both been heard on other highly popular Demented Discs: John Christensen is featured on "I Get Weird" from the Demento's Mementos album, while Mike Kieffer supplied the unique "hand music" on "Eat It", "Another One Rides the Bus" and other "Weird Al" Yankovic hits.
"Let's Blow Up the Tow Truck" --
Krypton (unreleased tape)
Major record labels continue to ignore the potential of funny records, especially novelty singles, but Americans can't resist the occasional urge to make musical merriment anyway -- even if it's only on tapes to play for their friends, and (if they're really hot) on the network radio show that puts out this newsletter!
As we go to press we're starting to get some good calls for Krypton's latest underground tape, "Hangover."
"Cohen at the Telephone" -- Joe Hayman (1914)
"Mr. Gallagher & Mr. Shean" -- Ed Gallagher & Al Shean (1922)
"Two Black Crows-Part I" -- Moran & Mack (1927)
"Three Little Fishies" -- Kay Kyser (1939)
"Timtayshun" -- Red Ingle & the Natural Seven (1947)
"Huggin' and Chalkin'" -- Hoagy Carmichael (1947)
"All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" -- Spike Jones and his City Slickers (1948)
"The Thing" -- Phil Harris (1950)
"It's In the Book" -- Johnny Standley (1952)
"St. George and the Dragonet" -- Stan Freberg (1953)
"The Purple People Eater" -- Sheb Wooley (1958)
"Witch Doctor" -- David Seville (1958)
"The Chipmunk Song" -- David Seville
"Mr. Custer" -- Larry Verne (1960)
"Alley Oop" -- Hollywood Argyles (1960)
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" -- Brian Hyland (1960)
"Monster Mash" -- Bobby (Boris) Pickett (1962)
"I'm Henry VIII, I Am" -- Herman's Hermits (1965)
"My Ding-a-Ling" -- Chuck Berry (1972)
"The Streak" -- Ray Stevens (1974)
"Disco Duck" -- Rick Dees & his Cast of Idiots (1976)
"Convoy" -- C.W. McCall (1976)
1. The theme song of The Frantics
11. Old "Laugh-In" gag... ____ My Chimes
12. Lehrer's first name
13. Commonly used article
14. A man's nickname, short for Seymour
15. TV show, "____ House"
17. "____ My Fire"
18. Abbrev., Old Style
19. Abbrev., Michigan
20. Like hey man, what are you really ____?
21. It's ____ with me
22. Rock group or rapid eye movement
25. Popular TV show, ____ Vice
27. Abbrev., Social Security
29. Groucho's "Hooray For Captain ____"
35. Viet ____
37. A good description of a dementoid
39. The late great Jackie ____
40. Band leader who did "Three Little Fishies"
3. The band that did "Surfin' Bird"
4. Singer, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips"
5. Not off
6. What is said every Friday
7. Friendly alien
8. Julie Brown's ____ Queen
9. Dorothy's Auntie ____
10. Writer & performer of "Making Love in a Subaru"
16. The band that did "Punk Polka"
22. Egyptian sun god
25. The cook on Alice
26. (Fr.) friend
28. Cheech's partner
29. Everything remains the ____
30. Alfred E. Newman's "It's __ ____"
31. "____town Downers Grove"
32. Pencil ____ Geek
33. Not a near
34. ____ Angeles
Phonograph records, as you no doubt know, require careful handling in order to provide repeated pleasure. We were all trained to keep them in their innersleeves, not to touch the grooves with our fingers, to use the Discwasher every time, etc. etc. A lot of people get bored and impatient with all that, which is one reason cassettes have become twice as popular as LPs. Tapes need loving care too, actually, if you plan to keep them awhile, and compact discs need a whole lot of TLC...but we'll get to that another time.
Let's say you have some LPs or 45s that are near and dear to you, but they haven't always been treated as kindly as you know they should be treated. Perhaps you got them second-hand, or loaned them out, or your friends handled them during your last pizza party, or you did some no-nos to them yourself during a former life.
If they really got scratched up, or worn out, or melted in the sun, there's not a whole lot you can do...but chances are real good, when vinyl records sound bad, that the main villain is plain old DIRT -- and that you can do something about.
Ordinary record-care products are designed to remove the light specks of dust that accumulate while a disc is on the turntable, and maybe a few light fingerprints -- but if a record is really dirty, it needs stronger stuff.
You need a solvent that is strong enough to dissolve grease (but not strong enough to dissolve vinyl, of course!) and something to rub the solvent into the tiny grooves to get the dirt out of them.
For the past couple of years I've used the Nitty Gritty record cleaning system. For me it's a godsend. You place the record on a kind of mini-turntable, coat it with Nitty Gritty's solvent solution, brush the solution into the grooves, and then flip the record over and let the machine suck the solution and the dirt out of the grooves with its vacuum-cleaner action.
Nitty Gritty's machine are not to be confused with the cheap "Vac-o-Rec" gadgets that made the rounds in the 1970s. These are expensive -- the lowest price I've seen is $150, and they can run $600 plus for the deluxe models that do all the work automatically. I've never regretted taking the plunge, though!
That's the professional way to do it. If your record cleaning budget doesn't run to three figures, there is a cheaper way, the way I did it for many years. We'll call it the Kitchen Sink Method. You need:
1) the kitchen sink, and some adjacent flat clean counter space
2) some clean terrycloth towels (bath type)
3) a dish rack, the kind that will hold dinner plates (or records) in a semi-vertical position
4) (not absolutely necessary but very helpful) a black rubber pad, a little over 12" square, with a little rubber peg in the middle -- look for these in the "accessories" department at large record stores or stereo dealers
5) an applicator of some kind. A washcloth will work quite well. If you use a Discwasher, go buy a new brush to keep by your stereo, then use the old brush for the kitchen sink; it'll work fine as long as it lasts
6) a spray bottle of Glass Plus window cleaner
First, lay the record on the black rubber pad, fitting the record's center hole over the little peg. (If a pad is not available, cover the counter space with a clean towel, and lay the record on top of it). Second, spray Glass Plus on the record surface, avoiding the label if possible (it may get waterspots). Third, take your applicator and scrub the record gently but firmly, in the direction of the grooves. Make sure there's no grit or anything abrasive on your applicator. Fourth, flip the record over and repeat the process. Fifth, rinse the record thoroughly under lukewarm running water, trying to keep the label dry. Sixth, set the record gently in the dish rack while you pick up a clean dry towel. Seventh, wipe the record dry, as you would a dinner plate, but in the direction of the grooves.
You should notice a considerable sonic improvement.
I've cleaned a lot of 78's with this method also, but, alas, I've also broken a few, and Glass Plus sometimes discolors them. I was especially happy to get the Nitty Gritty machine for those precious shellacs; they make a special fluid for them that works splendidly, and there's virtually no risk of breakage.
(Further info: Nitty Gritty Record Care Products, Inc., 4650 Arrow Highway, F4, Montclair, CA 91763 -- (714) 625-5525).
Is it possible to purchase tapes of the Dr. Demento Show? --
Janice Rosen, Chicago, IL
The Doctor Replies: Alas, copyright laws make it impossible for me to provide this service. However, recent court decisions have established that listeners are free to tape shows off the air for their own private enjoyment.
Dear Doctor: I have written parodies of "Yesterday,"
"Old Time Rock 'n' Roll." I would like to know how I can copyright
Schoun P. Regan, Akron, OH
The Doctor Replies: Copyright forms for any song can be obtained from the Copyright office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559.
However, you cannot, on your own, hold a valid copyright for a song that incorporates the melody (or lyrics) of someone else's previously copyrighted song. You would have to contact the publishers of the songs you mentioned (they are generally identified on record labels and/or jackets) and get their permission before you could legally record your parodies or use them for any other commercial purpose. They are very likely to say no (even Weird Al gets turned down sometimes).
I'd strongly suggest you turn your energies to writing original songs, or find a musically inclined partner to collaborate with. In any case, best of luck!
It all started on a cold and rainy night. My father and I were working on my car, "Christine" when I happened to drop a bolt on the floor. It happened to land on a newspaper ad for a local radio station...which that very night was going to play a countdown of the worst songs ever made!
We decided to tape it. They played them all -- "Fluffy," "Boogie Woogie Amputee," "Paralyzed," "I Want My Baby Back," etc. For about three months we listened to the tape. Then one day in a record exchange we came across a Rhino record with all those songs -- The World's Worst Records! That led me to your albums. I have Vol. II and III and hope to have them all soon.
I saw your interview with Bob Sarlott on Entertainment This Week and thought what a neat thing to do! I would definitely like to join your fan club.
Auckland, New Zealand
Hi ya Doc,
I would like to correspond with anyone that collects Billy Murray, Irving & Jack Kaufman, Frank Crumit, The Peerless Quarted, Hoosier Hotshots etc.
1849 NE 182 St.
North Miami Beach, FL 33162
Male, age 34
Dementite musician seeks other Dementoids to create and record mad
music. (3 of my songs have already been played by Dr. D.) Please
write and tell me what craziness you're into.
2733 California St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Male, age 34
Dear Dr. D.
Thank you for including my dada's song Itsy Bitsy Bikini in your album...I made this poster, you can put it in your car.
c/o Stone Buffalo
Helendale, CA 92342
(Information from Billboard charts and other sources, as compiled by Joel Whitburn in his books Top Pop 1955-1982 and Pop Memories 1890-1954, published by Record Research, Menomonee Falls, WI).
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There's a lot of dementia to be found on the soundtrack album for the recent musical film version of Little Shop of Horrors (Geffen Records) including "Grow For Me" sung by Rick Moranis, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" featuring Levi Stubbs (the voice of the carnivorous plant) and "Dentist" featuring Steve Martin. This is also available on compact disc; however, for some reason known only to God and Mr. Geffen, the complete version of "Dentist" including Bill Murray's part can only be heard on a hard-to-find 7" 45 single.
It's been a good spring for Dr. Demento Show guest RAY STEVENS with two MCA Records albums on the country charts. One is his latest, Crackin' Up, an all-comedy song album featuring "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex" along with "Gourmet Restaurant," "Three-Legged Man," "Sex Symbols" and "Doctor, Doctor (Have Mercy On Me)." It's his fourth all-comedy album in a row, and very much in the happy spirit of its predecessors. Then there's Ray Stevens' Greatest Hits which includes several of his recent MCA hits (but not "Rolex") along with the original recordings of some of his earlier gems including "The Streak" and "Shriner's Convention." This joins the small but growing roster of demented Compact Discs which now also includes a CD version of the classic "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D (the "Eat It" album, on Rock 'n' Roll Records).
While we're on the subject of CD's, a company called Rykodisc that makes only compact discs has acquired rights to the FRANK ZAPPA catalog. The most Demented of their releases so far is a single CD combining two long-unavailable Zappa favorites from the early 70s: Overnite Sensation ("Montana," "I'm the Slime") and Apostrophe ("Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," "Stinkfoot" ).
Two recent major-label albums spotlight two very different stand-up comedians. Veteran TV and nightclub comic JACKIE MASON, a former rabbi, gives us over an hour of wise and witty reflections on Jewish life in America on The World According to Me (Warner Bros.), his first album in many years. A far less traditional comedian, EMO PHILIPS, amazes again on Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre (Epic), his second LP. (See Dr. Demento's Diary).
Turning to the independents, several small-label singles have done well on the Funny Five this year. In addition to "Beastie Wrap" (see FUNNY FIVE FAVORITES) there's "Vanna Pick Me a Letter" by DR. DAVE (TSR Records, 8335 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069), "Hey Rocky" by BORIS BADENOUGH (Trax, c/o Precision Records, 932 W. 38 Place, Chicago, IL 60609; this exists in 12" and 7" versions which are quite different, the latter being the one heard on the show) and the sweetly risque "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian" by JOHN PRINE (the green plastic 7" 45 is available for $3.00 postpaid from Oh-Boy Records, PO Box 36099, Los Angeles, CA 90036).
Colorful (and sometimes wicked) impressions of dozens of TV stars are featured on "The Unofficial 200th Anniversary Of the Constitution All-Star Celebrity Gala Spectacular!" by the UNCHARTABLES, a cassette-only release available for $4.00 from Dilettante Records, 6255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 110-23, Hollywood, CA 90028. In addition to the version heard on the show, the tape contains a 10 1/2 minute extended version. Also on cassette only is Unimpeachable by NANCY WHITE, a fine Canadian satirist in the Tom Lehrer tradition; many cuts deal with Canadian politics but others are worldwide in scope, especially "Forever Fluffy" (about a company that freeze-dries deceased dogs and cats) and "Memo to Droola" (about being an infant in the late 1980s). (Mouton Records, Box 128/station E, Toronto, Canada M6H 4F2).
As usual, there are a few new rock albums with one or two Demented tracks apiece: The Men Who Loved Music by THE YOUNG FRESH FELLOWS ("TV Dream," "Hank, Karen & Elvis") on Frontier Records; Live, Love, Larf and Loaf by the progressive supergroup FRENCH FRITH KAISER THOMPSON (a delightfully bent cover of "Surfin' U.S.A.") on Rhino, and in a folkier vein Penguin Love by FREE HOT LUNCH ("Oreos," "Sex By Mail") on Flying Fish. Groovy Neighborhood by PIANOSAURUS on Rounder Records features a trio which gets some amazingly lively rock sounds out of nothing but children's toy instruments.
Jazz vocalist DAVE FRISHBERG reprises his wry delight "My Attorney Bernie" on Can't Take You Nowhere (Fantasy). On a very different musical note, two of today's new-wave polka bands have new vinyl: POLKACIDE (Subterranean Records) and Polka Changed My Life Today by ROTONDI (Rotondi Records). Finally, two additions to previous discographies in our PROFILES department. Harlequin Records in England has begun a series of Spike Jones LPs drawn from rare radio transcriptions. Also from England is a new CD version of the very first Monty Python album, on the BBC label. Look for these in import specialist shops.
Most stations pay close attention to feedback from their listeners, so your telling them that you'd like to hear the Dr. Demento Show on their station is the best thing you can do, short of sending rubber chickens.