Monday, 6 August 2012

Comedy Records

When I started buying records, thanks to the proceeds of two paper rounds, working in a Bike Shop and any other sources of income that came my way, the obvious place to go was Reading's foremost second-hand record emporium Pop Records (long since gone - the two shops are now both demolished.  One to make way for the IDR extension, the other was on the grounds where The Oracle now stands).
These two shops had a wide selection of just about every music style you could desire.  Rock, Punk, Metal, Electronic - I bought it all.  I manged to assemble a full set of Beatles singles (in various degrees of condition and age (original issues, 1976 re-issues in green sleeves, a couple of US issues on Capitol)), and also a pile of NWOBHM singles and albums.
The shop also had a very large section devoted to Spoken Word and Comedy records.  So not only was I devouring music, I was also getting a comedy education at the same time.

There was no difference between the consumption of these records.  Both music and comedy records were played, digested and regurgitated in the same way.  The content of the Comedy Records is now just as hard-wired into my brain as the collected works of The Beatles, T.Rex and The Jam.

Here are a few choice selections of the purchases made:

Tony Hancock - The Blood Donor & The Radio Ham
Quintessentially British, pompous and exasperated at every step, Tony Hancock (or the character) is a born born loser who is never quite as good as he thinks he is.  The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham are perhaps two of the best episodes.
The Blood Donor contains the often quoted line "A pint, thats very nearly an armful" which is still funny no matter how many times I've heard it
Favourite Hancock line (from Twelve Angry Men): "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"

Monty Python
In my world, definitely top of the comedy pile.
Monty Pythons approach to comedy was to take a low brow subject and talk about it in a high brow way, or take a high brow subject and talk about it in a low brow way.
A palindrome of Bolton is Notlob - you don't get stuff like that with Hale & Pace

Jasper Carrott
Robert Davis's records are funny.  There is no question about that.  It just seems that as he got going on the TV he became less funny as each series went on.
Check out 'The (Un)Recorded Jasper Carrott' or 'Carrott In Notts' for proof of how funny he was.
He even managed to get on Top Of The Pops performing his single 'Funky Moped', which probably sold more due to it's "banned" B-Side 'The Magic Roundabout'.

Not The Nine O'Clock News
A near perfect collection of three albums and one live show.
Recorded between 1979 & 81 and despite some of the cultural references not being entirely relevant some 35 years (!) later, these records are still superbly funny.  Even the title "Hedgehog Sandwich" is enough to raise a smile.

Ivor Biggun
There are 3 main Ivor Biggun albums and as you would expect they are stuffed full of filth, rude words and references to ...
Trivia Note: Ivor Biggun's single ("The Winkers Song (mis-print))" was Johnny Rotten's Single Of The Week when he was a guest reviewer for the NME in 1978

Spitting Image
The puppet show which was responsible for possibly the last proper novelty Number One single ('The Chicken Song').  The album was basically a collection of stuff that had been previously aired on TV.  Interestingly, the words on their own stand up without the visuals needed to back them up or flesh out the laughs.

Ben Elton
'Motormouth' was released in 1987. I think I listened to this more than U2's 'The Joshua Tree' which was also released in that year.
Ben Elton had previously either written or co-written The Young Ones (era defining television), Filthy, Rich & Catflap (good in places) and Blackadder The Third (in my view the application of the English language for the purposes of comedy in this series is bettered only by P G Wodehouse).  This recording is effectively his Saturday Live gig with added material, extra nob gags and a couple more expletives which wouldn't have made it onto Channel 4

There are loads of others I could mention, and all equally pant-wettingly funny: Tom Lehrer, Billy Connelly, Richard Digance, Rowan Atkinson, Barron Knights, Derek and Clive, Alexei Sayle - all good and all worth seeking out.

The Comedy Record was a product of the time - a time before home video allowed the words AND the visuals to be viewed.
Now the DVD takes the place of the Comedy Record, and its a very crowded market (virtually every stand up comic will have a DVD out at any given time, regardless of quality and popularity).
I like stand-up Comedy, but sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of stand-up DVDs on offer.
A comment regarding quality control: I've only ever turned off one DVD halfway through - that was Jimmy Carr's Making People Laugh (sorry Jimmy)

Due to the fact that these were Comedy RECORDS, it was sometimes obligatory to include a song on the album, or indeed release a single.  The chance of getting on Top Of The Pops was never ignored.
Here are two which scored quite well:

Jasper Carrott - Funky Moped

Spitting Image - The Chicken Song

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