Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Little Craziness Never Hurts ...

Y'know, in the world of rock-n-roll ... in fact, in the music world itself ... there seems to be a lack of the one thing that can turn people on, get endorphins rushin', and make life a little easier to bear.
It's called humour.
Now, there's no doubt that Paul Revere and The Raiders had it. Their mid-Sixties' hits were all Top-40 material, and their onstage and (and, as we read from Uncle Lloyd's Tiger Beat awhile back) occasional offstage antics made for some of the most flat-out entertaining vignettes in rock-and-roll history .

But there were those who could get their humour onto the radio, and with great results: From the Trashmen's Surfin' Bird (which, incidentally, was about a dance, but became a popular voiceunder for some of the craziest bits on television) to the King of the Road himself, Roger Miller, at one point in time humour was actually an integral part of our listening pleasure.

Miller always seemed to be smiling while singing his signature hits like Dang Me, Chug-A-Lug, England Swings, You Can't Roller Skate (in a Buffalo Herd) -- and hit us broadside with serious, thoughtful hits like One Dyin' and A Buryin' and Husbands and Wives.
The man was one of the most likeable guys off-camera, and he's sorely missed.

Another performer not only set the stage for some megafunny hits but also developed sort of a "prototype" for rap!
Ray Stevens, of Ahab the Arab fame, could belt out some hilarious stuff (including Gidget the Midget, Along Came Jones and The Streak) as well as some amazing story songs like Have A Little Talk With Myself (which was covered by Sammy Davis. Jr.) and, of course, Everything Is Beautiful. But when it came to rhyme, meter and phrasing -- all in spoken-word verses -- nothing could beat 1969's Gitarzan. If you listen to rap and hip-hop today, you'll hear exactly the same meter, the same timing ... but Ray did it years before!

Of course, today's laughlord is "Weird" Al Yankovic, whose parodies of the hits-of-the-day have gone platinum! But there's one other, who's a fave amongst kids of 2011 and is, as of this post, enjoying a reunion of the band and a solid new LP.  Primus (with legendary bassist Les Claypool) are known for their offbeat tracks -- like the one from the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack called Tommy the Cat.  With a dynamic heavy-rock beat, the song sounds like it's ripped out of a Garfield® comic ... when you visualize the graphics, it's totally cool!  And, on another album, they rip through some serious rock for two tracks and then -- without any advance notice to fans -- break out into a very hillbilly song, Puddin' Tane!  Zany but so cool ...

Anyway ... in this day and age, we really need a few laughs ... even in our music! And I predict that it won't be long before someone else steps up to the plate and hits a homerun with a #1 smiler ...
so stay tuned ...

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