Friday, 2 August 2013

Retro Vinyl: The Best Of Stan Freberg (Music For Pleasure, 1970s)

Another recent Healthy Planet discovery was this somewhat crackly but brilliant LP featuring several of Stan Freberg's (The Best of Stan Freberg, MFP 50390) musical parodies.

As we regard comedians such as The Goons, Monty Python, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise in the UK, Freberg undoubtedly has a similar pedigree in the US, although its fair to say the subjects of his parodies didn't always see the funny side of his recordings, forcing his record company to show caution in releasing material sometimes.

For instance, his interpretation of The Great Pretender featuring a rebellious piano player didn't go down too well with The Platters when it was originally released, although like other songs featured here its an observation of the construction of a record rather than a poke at the artists.

Further laughs are raised with Freberg's assault on new musical trends including skiffle (Rock Island Line) and Rock N Roll (Heartbreak Hotel). There are also affectionate takes on The Banana Boat Song  (featuring an awkward bongo player upsetting the lead vocalist while sketching a minds eye cartoon in the listeners head) and The Yellow Rose of Texas (Freberg does battle with an over-keen snare drum whilst trying to sing).

Its not all musical parody though St George and The Dragonet (a US Number 1 in 1953) is a three minute master class in committing a comedy sketch to vinyl, similarly Freberg's The Quest For Bridey Hannerschlaugen.

Of course, pop cultural references to the likes of Ed Sullivan, Elvis Presley and Walt Disney do date this release, but in a good way, displaying how some people moving from the American radio era to the television era, maybe didn't have as a high regard for these stars aback in the 50s as they are given legendary status now (Tele-Vee-Shun).

This LP is certainly worth a listen if you want a healthy combination of vintage satirical look on 1950s popular culture, parodies and comedy, and is an ideal introduction to the work of Stan Freberg.

The Best Of Stan Freberg 
MFP 50390 (previously released on Capitol Records, T2020, 1963)

Side 1
  1. Yellow Rose Of Texas Drums – Alvin Stoller 
  2. John And Marsha
  3. St. George And The Dragonet 
  4. C'est Si Bon 
  5. Trouble 
  6. Tele-Vee-Shun  
Side 2
  1. Banana Boat 
  2. Heartbreak Hotel 
  3. Rock Island Line 
  4. The Great Pretender 
  5. The Quest For Bridey Hammerschlaugen 
  6. Try  

1 comment:

  1. As a kid I loved Freberg's version of The Banana Boat Song ("too loud, man")as it often got a play on Junior Choice.

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