Ray Stevens has made several excellent comedy records including “Bridget The Midget” and “The Streak”, and he responds to “Deck Of Cards” with “High School Yearbook” telling of a boy whose playing cards remind him of school. This feeble rewrite must have taken all of five minutes.
Jody Miller had some success as a pop and country singer in the 60s, recording the teen anthem, “Home Of The Brave”. Her response to Roger Miller’s quirky “King Of The Road”, “Queen Of The House”, made the US Top 20 and both songs won Grammys. “Queen Of The House” is a witty lyric in its own right, and Gloria Becker’s answer to “Sixteen Tons”, “Sixteen Pounds”, is also about an overworked housewife.
The country singers, Sheb Wooley and Ferlin Husky, recorded scores of parodies under their alter egos, Ben Colder and Simon Crum, respectively. Wooley almost called himself Klon Dyke. Simon Crum’s portrait of his girlfriend, “Enormity In Motion”, is not very PC, but such reservations were unknown in 1961.
“Enormity in motion,
When we swim at school,
She cause such commotion,
She overflows the pool”
Still, it’s minor league when compared to Colder’s answer to “Don’t Go Near The Indians”, “Don’t Go Near The Eskimos”, not included here but a US country No.l. Homer and Jethro’s daft parodies include “The Battle Of Kookamonga” for “The Battle Of New Orleans”, but the collection goes with Jerry Wilson’s “The Battle Of Trip-O-Lee”. The US disc-jockey, Jim Nesbitt, had several minor country hits including a nudist parody of “Running Bear”, “Runnin’ Bare”.
Sometimes the artists cut their own answer versions, the most famed example being David Bowie who updated “Space Oddity” with “Ashes To Ashes”. The doowop quintet, the Bobbettes, followed their “Mr Lee” with “I Shot Mr Lee”. Jan and Dean continued their 1959 hit single, “Baby Talk” 14 singles later with “She’s Still Talking Baby Talk”. Gary Paxton led the Hollywood Argyles through “Alley Oop” and followed it through with a solo single, “Alley Oop Was A Two-Dab Man”. Pat Boone recorded a hit song about a Mexican cartoon character, Speedy Gonzales. Mel Blanc provided the one-liners and Mel himself followed “Speedy Gonzales” with “The Tiajuana Ball” in which Speedy gabbles about modern dances like “The Locomotion”. In each of these cases, you wonder why they bothered.
In real life, Tom Dooley was hanged, but that didn’t stop the answer versions. The Liverpool singer-songwriter Russ Hamilton’s “Reprieve Of Tom Dooley” was banned by some America radio stations for mocking their history. Merle Kilgore told the story of “Tom Dooley Jr” and in this collection, we have the Balladeers copying the Kingston Trio with “Tom Gets The Last Laugh”: the rope on the gallows was too long and he was able to escape. There was such a fad for Tom Dooley songs that maybe Frank Sinatra should have dedicated “A Swingin’ Affair” to him. Stella Johnson continued the story of a bad gambler with “The Trial Of Stagger Lee”, while Barry Frank audaciously reworked Kurt Weill’s sparkling lyric for “Mack The Knife” as “Mackie Got Married”. Dudley reworked the western saga “El Paso” as an unappetising “El Pizza”, but I enjoyed Bill Robinson’s “Ringo’s Curse” – “Who shot the guy that shot the guy that shot the guy that shot Ringo?”
Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain” is a country classic, and was quickly followed by Jo Ann Campbell, “(I’m The Girl On) Wolverton Mountain”, both of which made the US Top 40. John Zacherle, a US-TV host of horror movies, had his own hit with “Dinner With Drac”, but I’d never heard “I’m The Ghoul From Wolverton Mountain” before. Scary Spice is more frighening than this.
Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” is a gift for parodists, but Joni Credit’s “A Girl Named Harry” adds little to the saga. Far better is Sue’s songwriter, Shel Silverstein, giving his dad equal time in “The Father Of A Boy Named Sue” from his much-neglected LP, “Songs And Stories”. Silverstein also recorded the hilarious song, “A Front Row Seat To Hear Ole Johnny Cash”, about someone who is prepared to go to jail to see his hero perform.
When the original is a comedy song, it should be easy to write something funny. Should be. These CDs contain Jeff Hughes’ “Our Spaceman Did Come Back” (“My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”), The Emperor’s “I’m Normal” and Henry IX’s “Don’t Take Me Back Oh No” (both based on “They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haaa!”), Jan and Jerry’s “Bandstand Baby” (“All American Boy”), the Jayhawks’ “Betty Brown” (“Charlie Brown”) and Mann Drake’s “The Vampire Ball” (“The Monster Mash”). Not a titter. Much better is Sandra Gould’s answer to “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah” called “Hello Melvin, This Is Mama”:
“Though we love you like we oughta
Don’t come home because we’ve taken in a boarder.”