Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 3/31/10

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it kinda is one. This week’s installment is humor-related in honor of April Fool’s Day… which is actually tomorrow. Whatever. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety (1978) on black, Leonard Nimoy’s The Way I Feel (1968) on black, and Steven Wright’s I Have a Pony (1985) on black.

Place of Purchase: I honestly can’t remember where I bought High Anxiety. It doesn’t have a plastic sleeve, so let’s say Disc World. Nimoy and Wright both came from a street vendor at the Montgomery Mall. I’ve seen The Way I Feel go for up to $60 at hipster record stores in Philadelphia, so I was stoked to get it for a buck.

Thoughts: Sometimes I buy albums because I think they’ll be funny. In the case of High Anxiety, I was kind of wrong. I say “kind of” because the album’s funniest parts require previous knowledge of Mel Brooks’ films in order to fully appreciate them. I also say “kind of” because High Anxiety is only kind of a soundtrack to the movie of the same name. It doubles as a greatest hits package for Brooks, as the B-side features some of his best musical bits – “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers, Madeline Kahn as a very sleepy prostitute in “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles, Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle faking normalcy to the tune of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in Young Frankenstein. Spread throughout are classical overtures from the films, and there’s nothing funny about that. I dig the album, but it’s not exactly a gateway to Brooks’ comedic genius, even if “Springtime for Hitler” is still one of the funniest songs ever written.

My interest in Leonard Nimoy’s The Way I Feel is tied to my love of William Shatner’s spoken word albums. Has Been (the one that’s funny on purpose) really is one of my favorite albums, while The Transformed Man is a camp classic. The Way I Feel is… well, let’s just say it’s the sort of album I appreciate in an ironic fashion. It opens with Nimoy singing the lusty “I’d Love Making Love to You.” It ends with him committin’ crimes on “The Hitch-Hiker.” In between are many, many folky songs that I would never have expected Nimoy’s rich voice to have approached, including Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song). Sure, I loved him on Seeing Ear Theatre when I was a kid, but this is just bad. Sadly, the album does not include this choice single:

I Have a Pony is the one album discussed this week that’s funny all the time, and on purpose. I know Steven Wright is a strong influence on a lot of the contemporary comics I know, and Pony still holds up 25 years later. It’s filled with absurd one-liners like “I was arrested for scalping low numbers at the deli” and “I bought some batteries, but they weren’t included, so I had to buy them again.” With such short jokes, the tracklisting on the back cover is meaningless; Pony consists of two sides of the same ridiculous yet hilarious live show.

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