Spike Jones

7-6-11

Spike Jones & His City Slickers

Over the last few months, I have indulged myself in trying to hear some music that I heard as a child – to see how my 50+ years on this planet have changed my perception of it.  Spike Jones sounds great!  “Wild Bill Hiccup” is perhaps the best 45 I’ve heard in the entire last year!  However, I definitely did not hear that when I was a child…

I also dubbed a Beta video to DVD-R called “The Best Of Spike Jones – Volume One” – also billed as “The Craziest Video On Earth!” – 50 minutes of his TV show that originally aired between 1952 and 1957, so it’s B&W, of course.  Spike always seems to be chewing gum – yes, he’s ‘rail’ thin – hence his nickname “Spike”!  I also recognized Doodles Weaver and Billy Barty as performers.  The best surprise was seeing what George Rock looked like – either playing his trumpet (“Minka”) or singing in his “child voice” – the tape box also says Freddie Morgan and Sir Fredrick Gas appear – but I can’t tell who is whom.

As it was over 45 years ago, I do not remember how it came to be that my father played for me a reel-to-reel recording of Spike Jones that he had recorded off of the FM radio – it would be the 1957 album “Dinner Music For Those Who Weren’t Very Hungry” (Verve US LP MGV 4005).  Can’t really fathom how it sounded to my 5-year-old “inspector”.  I wasn’t even reading Mad Magazine yet!

Probably after a lot of pestering from me, Dad agreed to take me to Wallach’s Music City to try and find the LP that he had heard and recorded off of the radio.  So, my first special order in a record store was about 1963!  As I recall, the LP we wanted was no longer “in print” – but there was a different one we could order.  In a week or so, some diligent employee of Wallach’s called our home and said our Spike Jones LP had arrived.  So, maybe Dad was 47 years old to my 5 years old.

Wow, I’m now older than my own Dad when he turned me onto Spike Jones!  I was majorly impressed with the Jack Davis cover art on “Thank You, Music Lovers” (RCA US LP LPM 2224) – it’s a charming “Best of” collection of Spike’s RCA material, roughly from the mid-40’s to the early 50’s – all the famous non-Xmas hits: “Laura”, “Cocktails For Two” etc.  Needless to say, I was quickly forever entranced by the musical mayhem that is / was Spike Jones.

I eventually found an LP for “Dinner Music…” – but my record collector chops were not yet fully developed.  It has taken until 2011 for me to begin to find very many 45’s by Spike Jones, including the aforementioned “Wild Bill Hiccup”.  I really need to find one or more of the books about Spike Jones – to see if they can shed any light on why he left RCA – or any of many other aspects of his recorded legacy.

I used an on-line 78rpm discography to begin writing my own 45rpm discography of Spike Jones, but I still can’t get the two to match.  I doubt that absolutely all of his RCA 78’s were re-issued as 45rpm’s – either EP’s or 7” 45’s.  Now, where am I going to find the rest of the Spike Jones 45’s that I am presently missing?

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