Monday, May 9, 2011

The Weird Kingdom Of Hudson & Landry (1974)

October, 1994. At House of Records one afternoon, I was going through the comedy section, and came upon the H&L section. Over the years, I'd always gone through their section, wondering if I'd ever discover something "new" or exciting. There were copies of the first three albums, and--oh!--something called The Best Of Hudson & Landry. I was about to go over to another section when something caught my eye. I fished it out of the rack, seeing a brightly-colored cover, and thinking that maybe someone had left a childrens' record in there. What I was looking at was a cartoon drawing of the guys in the jungle, with Landry as a heroic explorer, wrangling a 'gator, and Hudson watching from a nearby pond. I flipped it over, and I was amazed and then excited to see that this was a fourth album! It made its way to the cash register with me in no time at all. I could not wait to get it home and play it.

The Weird Kingdom is their fourth and last album. What I found that day was one of only two copies I have ever seen of it. It's their rarest because, as Lew Bedell later explained, it was their poorest-selling album, selling only 30,000 copies. He also said they had split up after their third album, and he had to bring them back together to make this one. This was recorded at the Pomona National Golf & Country Club, like its predecessors, but has a slightly lower recording quality than the first three. Despite this, it's got some great gems to behold on it.

Mutual Of Tokyo presents "The Weird Kingdom", hosted by Merlin Marlon, and starring Ralph, the fearless explorer, who mistakes a sleeping alligator for an old log. He quickly notices the 'gator has a bad tooth and replaces it with a big gold one. A wacky and wild parody of Wild Kingdom, with sound effects to go along with the action.

Landry's impersonation of Groucho Marx stars as Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, hosting "The Heaven Game", while Hudson appears as a Pole, a Mexican and an old black man (Booker T. Welfare, by name), who are waiting to get into Heaven. Is there no bigotry or prejudice in Heaven? Play a round, and find out!

"Cornelius Vanderbilt"...ol' Wilbur works for him, not knowing he's the biggest kingpin in New York. Wilbur is stopped on the street by a plainclothesman, who asks him the whys and wheres of what he does and what he's got. Vanderbilt is into Japanese food, apparently! It's called "kilo"!!!

"Little Miss Lonely" is the pseudonym of an elderly widow who's put an ad in the Lonely Hearts Gazette, looking for "a beast, a real animal!". Bruiser LaRue has a quick cameo, whom she tells to "kiss off!", and ends up on the phone with Hudson's thoroughly inebriated drunk.

Cast for vote for Montague Dal Kemper in "Montague For Governor". He promises many things, such as closing topless bars, and bringing the prostitutes to their knees. There's a mystery guy behind him, heckling him at every sentence, and at the same time, revealing some very interesting truths about this guy!

"Forever Adams" is a 96-year-old pitching legend, who's still on the team at his advanced age. He gets it from ol' pop, who's also still out there as well!

A little "Who's On First?" comes into play with "Nobody's Business", where Hudson's famous drunk is tending bar, and telling Landry about Who, Somebody, Nobody, Really Sorry, and Never Sorry. You may be able to keep up with it and get it all after a few listens.

"Ajax Finance Company" closes the album, with Frank, the former president of the finance company trying to get a loan from the very institution he'd been fired from, after nearly 45 years on the job ("We'd-a been happy to give you a loan then, Frank!", says Landry, the new boss, sitting at Hudson's old desk). The ending of the routine has some rather abrupt editing to deliver a punch line, but it was obvious that poor ol' Frank didn't have a pot to piss in.

And, that was it for Bob Hudson and Ron Landry's reign at Dore Records. I've read somewhere that one of them walked out on the radio show one day, and that was that. I have no idea if they ever got together again, but it would have been wonderful if they had, and made some more recordings.

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