Sunday, January 31, 2021

Alfred E. Neuman "What - Me Worry?" b/w "Potrzbie"

(ABC-Paramount, 1959) This is a classic novelty record in the straight up "Pac Man Fever" tradition, where the popularity of MAD's mascot and his catchphrase are exploited as rudimentary novelty pop fare, with Alfred (and his Furshluginner Five) musically cutting up. The two most notable things (in 1959) were the Don Martin figures reacting to Alfred's face on the picture sleeve  (Martin's jazz LP covers had nothing to worry about) and that they decided Alfred had a kind of goobery nerd voice, neither sounding like the almost mystical trickster he seems to be on so many covers, or particularly Jewish, as one would assume he was considering all of the pseudo-Yiddish in the magazine. But the afterlife is a little more interesting. The song's composer, Charles R. Green, a/k/a Charles Randolph Grean, had a lengthy career as a composer and arranger (he arranged Nat Cole's "Christmas Song"). Though a few pockets of MAD-heads and dementoids dug this record (it reached #1 on Dr. Demento's Funny 5 in '75), it was pretty quickly forgotten my most. Thus, when Grean found himself in the odd but oddly successful position as the main man behind Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock-fueled music career, he had few hesitations about recycling the music and structure of the Alfred song to create his masterpiece. "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" (1968) is magnificent ("Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, he's only three feet tall...the bravest little hobbit of them all"), and we have Alfred's failure to thank for it. I haven't seen any of those Lord of the Rings movies (I've only read the MAD parodies), but I assume they use that song a lot. To hear my mashup of the two songs check out this viral (8 likes on Twitter and 4 views on Youtube so far!) video I made!

No comments:

Post a Comment