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.
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.
Elaborate packaging includes an annotated map of Loch Ness
Dear Diary: Saturday 17 July 1976
[Double-click image below to view in high-resolution]
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?).
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).
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: