41-Second Christmas Song

Johnny Nash‘s 1969 Christmas album Prince of Peace turned up recently in suburban DC’s Value Village thrift shop.  Initially captivated by the groovy 3-D cover, I was even more enthralled, once I returned home with the LP and cued up the 41-second opening track — a fresh pop arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that stands apart, musically speaking, from the other more devotional songs on the album:

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”     Johnny Nash     1969

[Pssst:  Click triangle above to play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as arranged and produced by Johnny Nash and Arthur Jenkins]

This JAD (J for Johnny Nash; A for Arthur Jenkins; D for Danny Sims) release was produced, not surprisingly, in Jamaica, although it is not a ‘reggae’ album as such.

Pretend the red dots vibrate in 3-D pop art fashion

This 41-second offering joins Zero to 180’s official list of short songs.

Third appearance of Johnny Nash, by the way, on this music history website.

Alex Harvey Loves Monsters, Too

Most music fans in the US (and even quite a few in the UK) are unaware that a major 1970s British rock star put out an album on K-Tel (!) during a period of peak popularity – one entitled Alex Harvey Presents the Loch Ness Monster, no less.  There’s a good reason for this record’s obscurity, as these notes from Discogs make clear:

“Released in a limited edition of supposedly 300 copies.  Comes in a beautiful gatefold-sleeve and a 12×8-inch 16-page booklet.  This is mostly a spoken-word album containing interviews with people claiming to have seen the Loch Ness Monster.  It features additional narrations by Richard O’Brien and Alex Harvey and one short musical track at the end.”

This limited release means that some Alex Harvey fans are willing to shell out £200 (only a couple months ago) or even £300 (back in 2014) for this tribute album to Nessie.  These prices are not an abberation, thus affirming the wisdom behind the decision made in 1977 by an elite group of Alex Harvey fans to purchase this long-deleted, vinyl-only release, which finally enjoyed reissue on compact disc in 2009 (John Clarkson’s review also provides a bit of back story).

I Love Monsters Too” — the album’s final selection, as noted above, is the lone musical track, and a concise one at that:  37 seconds (thus, deserving of inclusion on Zero to 180’s list of short songs in popular music):

“I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977

As YouTube contributor Mags1464 drolly observes, the song is “from an album that Alex made while the rest of the [Sensational Alex Harvey Band] were recording Fourplay.”   Zero to 180 just figured out why the group is relatively unknown here in the States — according to Discogs, only four of SAHB’s nine albums released in the 1970s were distributed in the US.

Front cover

Alex Harvey LP-aaBack cover

Alex Harvey LP-bbElaborate packaging includes an annotated map of Loch Ness

Alex Harvey LP-cc16-page diary

Alex Harvey LP-ddDear Diary:  Saturday 17 July 1976

[Double-click image below to view in high-resolution]

Alex Harvey LP-ee

Seven years prior to Alex Harvey’s run-in with K-Tel, Trojan Records attempted to cash in on Britain’s fascination with its most famous Scottish resident through the release of a horror-themed reggae compilation, Loch Ness Monster that contains, annoyingly, only one musical tribute to Nessie (and at least one dubious song selection — “Suffering Stink,” really?).

Loch Ness Monster LP

1970, coincidentally, would also see the UK release of an album – That’s How You Got Killed Before – by Jamaican ex-pat, Errol Dixon that features “Monster from Loch Ness” (not yet available for preview on YouTube).

One interesting “false hit” came up in my research is a spoken word collection that only enjoyed release in Canada (on Loch Ness Monster Records) by one-time Kiss manager, Bill Aucoin:  13 Classic Kiss Stories.

Bill Aucoin LP

In recent years, John Carter Cash would travel to Scotland to perform his own Nessie tribute live in an attempt to “summon the beast” from the depths of Loch Ness — successfully?  At least one person says yes:

“Loch Ness Monster”     John Carter Cash     2016

This is the only Zero to 180 piece tagged as K-Tel Records that isn’t also tagged as Various Artists Compilations

Brevity in Pop: Know When to Fold

These (short) songs clearly run the risk of leaving listeners wanting more:

Wildcat Run”    Red Sovine    1966    (1:20)

Revellion”     The Revels     1962     (1:14)

Oh Claire”      Cheap Trick     1978     (1:10)

Happy House”     Shuggie Otis     1974     (1:08)

Something Else”     Me and Them Guys     1966     (1:05)

Shut Up”     The Stranglers     1978     (1:05)

Thank You Boys”     Jane’s Addiction     1988     (1:03)

When We Were Young”     The Residents      1980     (1:02)

Naked If I Want To”     Moby Grape     1967     (0:58)

Once Was a Time I Thought”     The Mamas & Papas     1966     (0:57)

Ding Dang”    The Beach Boys     1977    (0:57)

Wild Honey Pie”     The Beatles     1968     (0:53)

Abide with Me”    Thelonius Monk    1957    (0:53)

I Can’t Sleep”     Sloan     2006     (0:53)

It’s Johnny’s Birthday”    George Harrison    1970    (0:50)

If You Won’t Leave Me…”     Warren Zevon     1993     (0:45)

       “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”    Johnny Nash    1969    (0:41)

Maggie Mae”     The Beatles     1969     (0:39)

Meant for You”    The Beach Boys    1968    (0:38)

I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977     (0:37)

Five Percent for Nothing”     Yes     1971     (0:35)

Nayli, Nayli, Get Me Down to Washington”     Moonshine     1970     (0:33)

Yoko Ono”     Die Arzte     2001     (0:31)

The Shortest Love Song”     Wee Willie Small     1978     (0:29)

Life Song”     Mason Williams     1968     (0:27)

Field Day for the Sundays”     Wire     1977     (0:27)

A Short Song”     Paddy Roberts     1959     (0:26)

26 Second Song”    Shel Silverstein    1972    (0:26)

Do You Think It’s Alright”     The Who     1968     (0:24)

Her Majesty”     The Beatles     1969     (0:23)

Harvey the Wonder Hamster”     Weird Al     1993     (0:21)

This Is the Shortest Song in the World”    Kenny Price    1970    (0:18)

Miracle Cure”     The Who     1968     (0:12)

Short Blues”     Neil Innes     1976     (0:11)

Turn It Over”     The Youngbloods     1969     (0:11)

That’s All Folks”     The Blues Magoos     1968     (0:08)

This Song”     Barry & the Bookbinders     1986     (0:05)

Magic Melody, Part Two”    Les Paul      1955      (0:01)

There’s a Riot Goin’ On”     Sly Stone     1971     (0:00)

18 seconds:  shortest track on a 45?

Kenny Price 45

Would you be surpised to learn that matter had already been settled in 1956?

[July, 2019 Update]

Small Claims

Shortest song to hit #1 (U.S.): 1960’s “Stay” by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs  1:35

Shortest song to hit #1 (U.K.):  1978’s “What Do You Want” by Adam Faith  1:35

Shortest song to hit Top 40:  1959’s “Some Kinda Earthquake” by Duane Eddy 1:17

Shortest song to hit the Hot 100:  1964’s “Little Boxes” by The Womenfolk  1:02

Shortest song to hit the UK charts:  2007’s “The Ladies’ Bra” by Trunk & Wiseby 0:36

Shortest Song - aa1Shortest Song - a1