7/29/16

Train Your Bird To Talk (Eagle Record Company, 1976)

Before you ask, yes, yes this is a real thing.  I'm not even going to make fun of it.  Well, okay, I bought it because it seemed hilarious, so there.  But what I can't do is tell you whether it works or not.  If you own a bird, you have a huge benefit over people that purchased this album originally:  you have the technology (to quote the opening of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN), and by that I mean, you can use the digital version of this album, set your device to replay it infinitely, and probably end up with a bird that says "HI, BABY" a thousand times in a row.  (Seriously, how 70's is that. I am surprised there's not a track for "What's your sign?")  There, I said I wasn't going to make fun of it, and now I'm getting off track.  Here is the back cover:
There's a helpful and serious article about bird-owning there, as well as a list of birds that talk, some of them I've never even heard of.  Here's a closer look at the tracks included:
They are nice enough to tell you that it's a female voice doing the talking, and it appears that she's not looped, from what I listened to.  Oh, and I should tell you about the music!  When you first start the record, you think you are in for an acoustic-prog experience, because that's what happens, but it fades down to nearly nothing when the woman's voice starts talking, staying on the very edge of audibility, until the end.  I was surprised at this, because I've read that birds will imitate most anything if they hear it enough (birds in pool halls make "racking and breaking" billiard sounds; my mother had a parakeet that would beep out the alarm-setting keypad noises)...so why would you include a bit of music on a record that solely exists for birds to learn from?
Eagle Records has the hits! We've got them all, including "How Are You," and who could forget "Hello Pretty Bird"?!...wait, that was "Silver Eagle Records" I was thinking of, a sort of K-Tel subsidiary back in the day.  Nevermind.

LINK:  Train Your Bird To Talk (Eagle, 1976)

7/28/16

Masters of the Universe Puzzle "Eternian Battlefield" (Golden, 1983)

Here is a find that surprised me.  Not only was it really cool, but I once again defied thrift-store odds, and ended up with a jigsaw puzzle that was 100% complete! It's not the greatest MOTU art from the era (I wish it was an Earl Norem painting, for example), but it still brings back a lot of memories.
Here is the box, which also shows the other puzzles in the series that were available:



7/25/16

Remembering the Dollar-Store Godzilla Bootlegs of 2006

I used to go into Dollar Stores, and others of their ilk, every now and again, but it's not a habit that stuck with me for very long.  At one time, it was unique to find a large package of soft cookies or strange candy for a dollar, but I don't eat that stuff anymore.  Occasionally, you could find bizarre knock-off toys, or even semi-legitimate ones...or outright bootlegs...and that is where we pick up today.
It's hard to believe that already, a decade has passed, but during the Halloween season of 2006, Dollar Stores brought forth a cornucopia of monster-themed bootleg products.  In fact, it was a whole "Creepy Classics" (sometimes) series, claiming to be the "property" of something called "X one X Archive," and distributed by "Greenbriar International."  Their assortment included Godzilla, and also several Universal properties like the Mummy, Wolf Man, Dracula, and King Kong.

All of the items we will look at today were available for each of the monsters listed.  This first item is a small, hard plastic carded figurine, about 2 to 2&1/2" tall.  It brazenly uses artwork from the 1954 film, and even borrows the title "King of Monsters," although that wouldn't hold for too long.  Also, the word "Toho" is nowhere to be found on the toy or its packaging.  

At first glance, it looks kind of neat.  But, prepare for disappointment:
Besides being dark green, and having yellow claws, it's not terrible, right? Look closer.  The nostrils are pinched and in a weird position, and when you turn the figure over, it gets even worse:
Yep.  No plates.  No anything, except for fine print.  He's Ken doll-smooth.  They totally phoned it in.  Looks fine in the package from a front view, but in reality, it's just a goofy dinosaur.  Let's move on...
Another item in this line were a sort of finger puppet, and all of them were holding baseball bats.  I guess the idea was that they should fit over small thumbs, and then you could have a battle.  What's interesting to me is that now the "Creepy Classics" banner is appearing, and our title has been changed to "King of the Lizards," as if somebody figured out they were being a bit too loose with their title-stealing.
The back of the card is similar to the last item, with the change of title.  Incidentally, there was one other item offered in this series that I didn't photograph, and that was posters of all the card artwork for each of the monsters.  In Godzilla's case, his poster looked exactly like this "King of the Lizards" card, just much bigger.  They came shrink-wrapped to a large sheet of cardboard.
King of the Lizards? I thought that was Jim Morrison!
Lastly, what good is a series of bootlegs without a deck of playing cards? Easy and cheap to produce, after all.  And, let's make them oval-shaped, so they can be completely useless.

I hope you've enjoyed our quick look at the bootlegs of a decade ago.  Hopefully, Toho found out about all of this, and gave this company a sound spanking.  Between Toho and Universal, I think we can figure out what happened to them, and whether they are still around!

7/21/16

Dr. Murray Banks - What To Do Until the Psychiatrist Comes (Murmil, 1961)

This is the sort of record I pick up because the cover is intriguing.  Sometimes, they turn out to be sales-oriented speeches; sometimes, merely commercials.  What's more important is that sometimes, they turn out to be wildly entertaining, and in a good way even.  This is one of those records.  
From what little I have read, Banks was a very popular speaker in his day (as well as a real psychiatrist), and he made several records.  I can see why! He was a riot, with fantastic delivery and a comedian's timing.  
Another quality of these sorts of random old records is that they are loaded with stale jokes that your uncles and fathers told at family dinners, and laughed at for years.  Amazingly, this platter is mostly free from that, making me think the guy at least wrote his own material.
But wait, there is STILL more. Would you believe an LP that is not only very entertaining, but will also give you some helpful advice for your own mental health, from a guy who was neither salesman nor preacher? Nevermind the year it was recorded, or that medical science has come so far since then, a quality tip is where you find it! In other words, it's fun, and just might give you some useful advice, too.  Your morning news didn't give you that!

Scalpers Can SUCK IT (Part Four)

Well, well, well.  The asshats in my area have been really busy, and have now struck at TRU.  Let's see, what do we have here?  
Pay attention kids, this is a "hybrid swindle":  an older Captain America, on a Walgreen's-exclusive Namor plastic tray, shoved inside of the one-per-case Nick Fury box.

I am telling you, friends, I see this stuff constantly, and I need to be taking more photos.  'Tis a sad world we live in.

Discovered: Another Alternate in the World of Godzilla Puffy Stickers (1979)

Well, if you care about this sort of stuff, this will interest you--if not, don't worry, I'm going to follow this right up with something more (or less) interesting.  My side-page called VINTAGE AMERICAN GODZILLA attempts to group all American Godzilla items into a somewhat-chronological order, and goes up to (sort of) around the time of the late 80's/early 90's, which needs to be the start of a second page, bringing it up to the present.
Anyway, there are several variations if Godzilla puffy stickers, all with no manufacturer, which is a bit suspicious.  Then, there is another version with alternate art, 3 different backers, in fact.  Add to this the above item, which I recently acquired.  It is numbered "Item #128," whereas the others like it are numbered "1201."  What this probably means is that one of the two groups were meant for individual sale, and the other, for spinner-racks of various stickers.  From what I have seen, they tended to make separate numbers, even if the size, variety, and art of the stickers were identical.  It all gets confusing, even to see it listed out.          

7/11/16

Don Adams Meets the Roving Reporter (Crescendo, 1965)

Here is a real treat.  This will completely make up for "Wacky Winners, Vol. 1."  The great Don Adams, in a just-before-GET SMART album of nightclub appearances and skits.  Incidentally, he is not the "roving reporter" as the cover would have you believe.  In fact, his "straight man" is completely uncredited, which is too bad, because he is obviously good in his own rite, and he exhibits a skill for several voices and accents.  But, in the end, it's Adams' LP, and is delightful from start to finish.  If you are like me, this record will make you lament that fact that he's no longer with us, like so many great comedians.

One other note--the track listing doesn't follow the back cover, or the label, even.  It seems to be closer to the listing on the front cover, just going by memory.  
LINK:  Don Adams Meets the Roving Reporter

7/8/16

Wacky Winners, Vol. 1 (Peter Pan Records, c.1975)

Usually, these sorts of random "kid's albums" bring back lots of memories for people.  This isn't one that I owned as a child, but maybe you did.  Hopefully, you did, but if you didn't, that's okay too, because honestly, it fails as being much of a children's record.
First of all, there is this:
This horrible blue monstrosity has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on here, and I would bet money that it kept several children from begging for this LP.  It's frightening, but yet, hard to stop looking at.  It's sort of a demonic eggplant/M.O.D.O.K./California Raisin-reject type thing.  Let's move on, and quickly.
And, he is on the label, too...GREAT.
I'd like to point out:  at some point, it became a "thing" to assign songs from the 1950's and 1960's to the category of "children's music."  I'm not exactly sure when it happened.  Perhaps the people that grew up with some of those songs felt they were silly.  Perhaps the publishers of those songs felt it was a way to keep them alive (and licensed).  At any rate, it happened, and I'm sure it continues to happen to this day.  Sometimes it makes perfect sense, and sometimes not at all.  Case in point:  this album.

Many of us have fond memories of the scores of Peter Pan (and Power) Records that used to be everywhere, especially if they involved book-and-record/comic sets, and superhero stories.  Those were exciting and fun.  This record is neither of those things.  Instead, you get weak remakes by different singers, with different instrumentation, recorded in different studios, but somehow, all called the "Puff 'N Toot Singers."  My friends, if you slog through years of school, only to find yourself in something named the "Puff 'N Toot Singers," then your life has been severely wasted.  The name is so bad, the copy-writer can't even remember it by the time he gets to the back cover, where he calls them "The Puff and Toot Chorus."
The front cover is supposed to illustrate the "happy, wacky" songs found inside, and yet there is still weirdness.  Let's go in order.  The Royal Guardsmen's 1966 hit probably makes sense on a record like this, but look at the illustration on the front cover:
I'm not exactly sure what is going on here...without a doubt, we are trying to publish a cover of a song about Snoopy, and yet not use his likeness.  It's almost a blob with a nose...and a bandana tied around its...blob.  I think those are paws behind the windshield?!  The more I look at this picture, the more I think my answer hinges on getting my medication changed.
Next up is "Rockin' Robin," which the cover misspells (again, 1950's). The colorful, Kroft-nightmare bird character on the front sings...
 ...about a Do-do. Huh.  Well, let's just keep going, shall we?
Next up is "Alley Oop," a song about a caveman based on a comic strip, so again, that one makes sense (although it's not "from the last decade" as the cover says; according to Wikipedia it was written in 1957).  
The next song listed is "Mule Skinner Blues," depicted by this creepy abomination:
Which looks like a Gepetto-monster with donkey's heads for arms.  However, the song isn't even on this album.  Instead we get something the label calls "Wringle Wrangle."  According to discogs.com, it was sung by Fess Parker in the film WESTWARD HO THE WAGONS (Or, if you went to private school, WESTWARD WHORE THE WAGONS).  So there's that.  At any rate, it's boring, choppy, and I wouldn't think it would hold a child's attention for very long. 
Closing out Side One is "Simon Says," or "Sez" if you read the front cover.  This song doesn't end, or fade out, but just cuts off, and that's exactly the way it is on my record.  Mastering error? Nice going, Peter Pan.  Stick to peanut butter.

Side Two begins with a hideous song called "Beep Beep." I was ready to swear that it was mis-titled, but it turns out, that is indeed the name of the novelty song released by The Playmates in 1958 (again, the 1950's).  It speeds up as it goes, and makes you want to slam your head repeatedly in a filing drawer.  After that is the Bill Haley classic, "See You Later, Alligator," where, once again, "1950's=Kids' Record."  Hey! 1950's again...I'm starting to wonder if this album is mis-dated.  Nah, it's just Peter Pan.  

"Sink the Bismark [sic]" was a hit for Johnny Horton in 1960, and I defy you to find a child alive today who will sit through it. 
Side Two concludes with a pair of real winners.  First up is "Running Bear," which the front cover illustrates with...
A bear.  Running.  In reality, the song is about an "Indian brave" whose love interest is on the opposite side of a turbulent river.  They both get in the raging river, swim towards each other, and die an agonizing death by drowning.  If that's not a children's song, I don't know what is! 

And lastly, the perennial elementary school classic, "Lavender Blue."  As if that wasn't bad enough, this version is a sloppy, Muzaky, saxophone-drenched version, that sort of sounds like a love ballad from one of those later Rankin-Bass stop motion stories; the ones where they had run out of ideas.  
Play this for your child, the next time they have done something wrong.

Oh, and lavender is purple, last time I checked.

LINK (if you dare):  WACKY WINNERS, VOL. 1 (and apparently there are at least TWO MORE volumes in this "series," if you can believe it!)

7/7/16

The First 5 Sesame Street 45's: Part Five (1970)

Concluding our series featuring the first five Sesame Street singles, here is the fifth, "People & Play."  Let's jump right into the book:
The first page features the lyrics to the A-side, the famous "People in Your Neighborhood" song.  According to the Muppet wiki, this song is longer here than on any other version, including the album it was taken from, and features a couple of extra verses about a couple of extra folks in the titular neighborhood.
The B-side should also be familiar to viewers, "Somebody Come and Play."  This is one of those songs that will divide people, because you will either love it, or see it as shrill or cloying, depending on your proclivities.  I personally like it, even though I'm aware that it is the major-minor chord changes that are playing on me like a violin...that said, I did not like it as a child, but probably because it's about a child all alone longing for playmates.  You can either interpret the singer as lonely, or as simply waiting for the other kids to get there.  Again, depending on the listener.
 Back cover to the book, which matches the sleeve for the record:
And now, the labels:
I'm sorry to say, this concludes our series on the first Sesame Street releases on vinyl.  This book-and-record Columbia series went on, at least to a ninth single, as far as I can tell.  Hopefully in the future we will be featuring more of them.  At the time, the original batch of singles were all from the first album, which, like the first single, was also called THE SESAME STREET BOOK AND RECORD.  By the time I had it, though, it had been re-issued a few years earlier as SESAME STREET 1, with some changes made (because of changes in the cast):

And now, the link.  Enjoy!

LINK:  People & Play (Columbia CC75005)

7/1/16

The First 5 Sesame Street 45's: Part Four (1970)

The fourth Sesame Street single release dealt with"Shapes & Up and Down," but it actually fails spectacularly at one of them.  There actually is no discussion of shapes whatsoever! If there's an answer to this mystery, it is that the title was supposed to be "SOUNDS & Up and Down," because that's what is actually on the record!
The A-side of the record features the perennial Sesame Street classic, "One of These Things" (is not like the other).  On the show, this was a visual game, but for audio, it had to be about sounds, which this first page of the book is supposed to illustrate.
The lyrics, and another example, follow on the third page.  No shapes anywhere.
The great artwork on the next two pages illustrates the B-side, which is the true star of the record.  Jim Henson and Frank Oz perform a song called "Up and Down," where Henson (the label says he is another Monster, but I kept imagining one of his man-on-the-street type guys) helps a nearly histrionic Cookie Monster (who has lost his cookie) with the concepts of up and down, which he already knows.  It's a huge treat, and if there was ever a doubt about the amazing throats of both men, think about how hard it would be to not only sing "in voice," but sing well!
The sleeve for the 45:

Labels:

Enjoy! Next time we wrap up with the fifth Sesame single.

LINK:  Shapes & Up and Down (Columbia Records CC75004)