I come from the primordial ooze!
Well, not really. But I do come from a time before MTV and music videos. This time of year, the radio stations would play novelty records that had monster themes. Add to this the syndicated Dr. Demento Show on Sunday nights (in Philly), and you could get a good knowledge of songs that had monsters that chattered, flattered and sank their fangs into you.
Before you, dear listener, is not a true Top Ten List (i.e. they aren’t listed in any particular order). Rather, these are ten of my favorites. Some you’ve heard. I am willing to wager that there are a couple that you haven’t.
So, sit back. Click on a link. Close your eyes and let the Theater of the Mind take over.
The Theater of the Mind.
I guess I should explain… Before television, radio was king. There were weekly broadcasts of your favorite shows that most tuned into religiously, just like today. But these were shows that you only heard, never saw. It was up to you to see them in your head. Your imagination was key. Radio shows were often “seen” in the Theater of the Mind.
I would have liked to have been around for some of this. If you’d like to try it, I am sure that you can find Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” on YouTube somewhere. It really is a good listen.
10. The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
In this time, David Seville was using sped up speech to give you Alvin and the Chipmunks. He wasn’t the only one to use the technique. Sheb Wooley’s Purple People Eater had the same sped up talk. But, as we all know, the PPE just wants to get a job in a Rock’n’Roll band!
9. Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett
A classic. This song has been covered all over the place. One of my favorite is Vivian Stanshall’s version with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
8. The Blob – The 5 Blobs
Okay, this is the theme to the Steve McQueen movie. What is more important is that the song was written by famous composer Burt Bacharach! If you need a reference, he does a duet with Elvis Costello in one of the Austin Powers movies.
7. The Mummy – Bob McFadden and Dor
Just as the Purple People Eater want to join a band, the Mummy just wants to get a copy of “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.” Yes, gang, that is a song. Also…Dor is famous Beat Poet Rod McKuen! He can be found on a number of records at the time.
6. Texas Behemoth – Cornell Hurd and his Mondo Hot Pants Orchestra
Now…Here is one of my very favorites. This is thanks to Dr. Demento, who played it occasionally. I finally found a posting for it just recently. It’s a song about a “big flying lizard, big reptile with wings” that is “three stories tall with a will of his own.” Great horn section and arrangement.
5. The Cockroach that Ate Cincinnati – Rose and the Arrangement
I can be found singing this one often. If you are a horror movie fan, this song is about you. It is a tribute to the fanatic in all of us and the admission that there is at least one monster out there that haunts all our dreams.
4. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
Another classic by the late great Warren Zevon, from the album “Excitable Boy”. I love the song, mistake and all. In the last verse of the song, he says he saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen, doing the Werewolf of London. Sadly, Lon Chaney Sr. never played a werewolf. It would have been cool if he did, though.
3. Angie Baby – Helen Reddy
This one is a bit weird. Who’d think Helen Reddy (I Am Woman) would sing about a “crazy girl with a secret lover who keeps her satisfied?” Angie has a special radio that…well, you’ll get it.
2. Psycho – Jack Kittel
This song is a cover. The song was written by blind C & W legend Leon Payne. It has been recorded by many singers, including Elvis Costello in his album “Almost Blue.” This is a great rendering of a man who is not sure how loose his screws are.
1.Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult
I don’t think I have to say too much about this. The title is self-explanatory. My friend, HTG, wanted to yell out “Oh no. There goes Tokyo” during our recent viewing of Shin Godzilla.
That’s all for now. Thanks to YouTube for supplying the tunes. Thanks as well to Dr. Demento, who now does his shows on-line, for a tremendous education in the diversity of comedy.
And a special thanks to Dad, whose record collection included Spike Jones and Stan Freberg. He introduced me to the novelty record.