Monday, May 9, 2011
Losing Their Heads (1972)
We found this one on vinyl at the Hill-Top Pawn Shop in May of 1986 (funny to remember a pawn shop even carrying vinyl!), for the princely sum of one dollar. I was amazed there was one more album by these guys, and I couldn't wait to hear it. The cover graphic, with a medieval-era woodcarving of a guy about to be beheaded, is memorable as the first album, and I think it would look great on a blue T-shirt.
"Obscene Phone Bust" starts it off, this time with the loud redneck sheriff trying to interrogate a guy they've busted for making obscene phone calls, but every reply he spews forth is peppered with the filthiest language imaginable. The bad words are covered up with the wackiest sound effects that would put a Looney Tunes cartoon to shame. They don't get too far because of this; one fellow fan noted the contrast between the hot-headed sheriff losing his cool amongst the laid-back/seen-it-all-before vibe from the suspect. Lew Bedell later said that the guys used blue language during the recording session, mostly to get the laughs going, but later covered them over with the sound effects. It would be interesting to hear the original performance!
"Ajax Airlines" has a very inebriated-sounding guy calling up the airline to find out what time the plane leaves, if they have any topless "hostresses", an in-flight movie ("No movie!?"..."No, sir, a rodeo!"), and perhaps if the operator could trace the call and tell him where he is. Will he make the flight with only three minutes before takeoff? (This routine was released as a single, though slightly shortened.)
"The Prospectors" are Zeek and Ray, two gold miners by the campfire, with their beloved pet rattlesnake, Floyd. How long have these guys been out there doing this? Even they don't seem to know, but they do know the coffee's getting cold, as the fire went out just this past Monday. This one will have the phrase "Boy, I couldn't live like that!" in your vocabulary.
"Sir Basil" is a British-style bit about two lords getting together for a spot of brandy, complete with the toast: "Over the lips and over the gums, look out abdomen, here it comes!".
W.C. Fields is back, this time at the "Ajax Travel Bureau", where he can get you anyplace, as long as it's Bogota, Colombia. There's a lightning-fast exchange between the guys when Fields asks the vacationing guy if he's ever seen Don Ho. It goes so fast, you may have to play that part back again to hear it right!
"Frederickism" is a new religion started by a schmoe by the name of Freddy Schultz, who is being questioned by the IRS to see if his new religion qualifies for a tax-free status. How much does he ask from his congregation? "Forty percent of everything you got!". And how many commandments? "Twenty-six! Can't hardly move without gettin' busted!"
"Astro Nut" is the continuing adventure of ol' Wilbur from Kearsarge, who's asking a local guy where he is this time (San Francisco), as he lost the rocket he was traveling in. Mind you, it's made of porcelain and concrete!
If "Ajax Liquor Store" made these guys famous, "Bruiser LaRue" made these guys into comedy legends. Bruiser is, to put it mildly, the gayest footballer to ever hit the playing field. He's so flaming, he may set off the smoke alarm, but you can't help but like him as much as you're cracking up. He goes on to tell sports reporter Ace Grovney how he got his start ("Playing Kick-The-Can in my mother's high-heels"), his favorite play ("Piling on, Ace"!), and his most triumphant play, against the Bradford Beavers ("I just tippy-toed around him and scored a touchdown!"). Totally non-PC in this day and age, but--come on--this is comedy, and you can't get any funnier than this, especially if you're a football fan. A slightly shortened edit of this routine was released as a single (can you imagine this coming out today, or being played on the radio???).
"Friar Schuck" is back, this time on a radio-hour program, bringing his healing powers to a man named Eddie Stokes who has never sweated before in his life. When he gets cured, he instantly gets the bill for the friar's services!
This was their highest-charting album (#35 in Billboard), their best-written and performed, and was even re-released in 1985 as a picture-disc, with cool black-and-white pictures on both sides of the guys in action, probably from a TV appearance. Lew Bedell later said the whole album was written out over Chinese dinner one night between them all, and it was their biggest. Just listen to it, and you'll see why!