The songwriter Barry Mann had a US hit with “Who Put The Bomp” and the answer version was recorded by Frankie Lymon, Morecambe and Wise, and, on this collection, Bob and Jerry. The Royal Teens’ question “Who Wears Short Shorts?” was answered by another one, Cook E Jarr’s “Who Wears Hot Pants?” Connie Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now?” led to the Shields’ apologetic “I’m Sorry Now”, although the melody is different. The request to “Tell Laura I Love Her” brought forth Marilyn Michaels’ “Tell Tommy I Miss Him”.
The Angels’ 1963 US No.l, “My Boyfriend’s Back”, prompted Bobby Comstock’s wimpish “Your Boyfriend’s Back”. A punkish rewrite came from Alice Donut – “My boyfriend’s back and he’s going to kick your ass.” Dion told of “Runaround Sue” but Ginger and the Snaps declared “I’m No Runaround” and the relationship had a happy ending as Danny Jordan sang “Runaround Sue’s Getting Married”. The Four Seasons’ hits prompted “Jerry, I’m Your Sherry” (Tracey Day) and “Society Girl” (The Rag Dolls), and Neil Sedaka’s “Making Up Is Fun To Do” (Tina Powers) and “Calendar Boy” (Stacey Ames). Actually, “Calendar Boy” is just “Calendar Girl” with a sex change. Same with Eddie Holman’s update of Ruby and the Romantics’ “Hey There Lonely Boy”, retitled “Hey There Lonely Girl” and the best track on the CDs.
Some of the answer versions are decidedly weird. What inspired the Flying Saucers’ canine reply to the Who, “My Kennel-ration”?
“You can call me stupid mutt,
Just as long as you feed my gut.”
Why should the Caretakers’ respond to Tiny Tim with your “Get Your Tippy Toes Off My Tulips”? “Eve Of Destruction” raised serious issues and the Spokesmen took a pro-nuke reply, “Dawn Of Correction”, into the US Top 40.
Did Brian Wilson give permission for Cagle and Klender to rewrite “California Girls” as “Ocean City Girls”? Certainly, in the UK, permission has to be be sought, and the Barron Knights were turned down by the Beatles and then Tim Rice, who didn’t think a lyric about vacuum cleaners suited “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”. The Barron Knights also faced opposition from David Bowie’s publishers but they met the Thin White Duke on “Top Of The Pops” and he okayed a feline “Space Oddity.
Stan Freberg was allowed to parody numerous 50s hits – “Heartbreak Hotel”, “The Great Pretender”, “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” – and he did them so amusingly that the artists were flattered, although Johnnie Ray disliked his “Cry”. Weird Al Yankovic, a latter-day Stan Freberg, must have famous friends as he has been able to parody Michael Jackson (“Eat It”) and Nirvana (“Smells Like Nirvana”.)
As far as I know, no-one has answered the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”, although it would be ideal. Madonna’s hits have not been answered, but in this collection, the Slightly Twisted Disappointer Sisters perform “No More Madonna”, based on Frankie Avalon’s “De De Dinah” from 1958 with a touch of Dion’s “Donna The Prima Donna”. With a 27 year difference, it may be the longest time from an original to an answer version.
The 58 songs on these 2CDs include answers to “Bobby’s Girl”, “Duke Of Earl”, “He’s A Rebel”, “My Guy”, “There Goes My Baby” and even “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. They are no better than the ones I have written about, and, of course, a song called “Mrs James, I’m Mrs Brown’s Daughter” couldn’t possibly be any good. No matter, these question no-marks are very entertaining and I’m glad to have these CDs in my collection. I hope the vogue for answer records returns sometime, but Beatle fans would say Oasis have already started the revival.