Bob Johnston – who famously produced Dylan‘s Highway 65 Revisited & Blonde on Blonde and Johnny Cash‘s Folsom Prison, among many other classic albums – left us last August. How startling to discover that Johnston used Nashville’s finest session musicians in 1966 to record a “dazzling anti-masterpiece” (as notes AllMusic’s Mark Deming) that delighted in “punking” the pop radio hits of the day – a Columbia release with the comically bloated title, Moldy Goldies: Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston And His Mystic Knights Band And Street Singers Attack The Hits.
Sean Wilentz, in Bob Dylan in America, would deem it “one of the most obscure rock albums of the 1960s.” Nashville Cream, in a 2012 interview with Johnston, would describe the album as, “superbly demented.”
Check out the vaguely Sgt.Pepper-inspired album cover:
And yet this album was released in 1966 – prior to Pepper!
Listen as Bob and the boys deconstruct Shirley Ellis’s “The Name Game” to hilarious effect (this will require, unfortunately, that you manually drag the “progress bar” all the way to the 25:35 point — very last song on the album). Try not to laugh when Johnston starts to lose it:
Bob Johnston’s entire ‘Moldy goldies/Colonel Jubilation’ album
Leader: Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston Bass: Henry “Big Irish” Strzelecki Drums: Kenneth “Sledgehammer” Buttrey Tambourine: Durl Glin, Kenneth “Sledgehammer” Buttrey Guitar: Charlie “Bugs” McCoy, One-Finger Mac Gayden Upright Piano: Hargus “Pig” Robbins Player Piano: Jerry Smith Harmonica: Charlie “Bugs” McCoy, Henry “Big Irish” Strzelecki Trombone: Wayne “Tailgate” Butler Trumpet: Charlie “Bugs” McCoy*, “Taps” Tidwell Violin: Brenton “Ping-Pong” Banks Vocals: Durl Glin, Princess La Mar Fike, Mortuary Thomasson, Tommy “Mole” Hill Vocals: [Swamp Women] – Incomparable R. Lean, Luscious Norma Jean Owen Producer: Bob Johnston Engineer: Mortuary Thomasson
I remember being a bit intimidated when I first heard “The Name Game” – Shirley Ellis’s big tongue twister of a hit – half fearing I would never be able to break the code behind the rhyming game (fortunately, with persistence, I one day did). “The Name Game,” it is worth noting, was released three separate times on 45: in 1964, 1966 and 1973.
How intriguing then to discover another tongue twister – “B-A Bay” from The Limeliters – that is just as fun and challenging and whimsical … and yet a relative unknown in the collective pop consciousness as represented on the information superhighway:
B-A Bay – The Limeliters
[Pssst: Click on the triangle above to play ”B-A Bay” by The Limeliters.]
This song was issued on an album – Through Children’s Eyes: Little-Folk Songs for Adults – that was originally performed live and recorded in December 1961 in Berkeley, California.
Would you be surprised to learn that The Limeliters derived the song’s inspiration directly from The Three Stooges?