Various Artists

Product Music, Vol. 1

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One of the most enjoyable reissues of the '90s, Product Music, Vol. 1 reveals a long-forgotten corner of music: songs from industrial musicals and other tunes intended for commercial purposes. These are not commercials, as the term is usually understood, but promotional items usually intended not for the general public but for employees of the company in question. Industrial musicals were written for sales conventions, annual meetings, and other corporate functions as a diversion from the weightier topics of profit and loss. The lyrics are about American Standards plumbing (a terrific trio of songs including the peppy "Look at This Tub!"), Exxon ("Up Came Oil!"), and Ford farm equipment ("Tractor Drivin' Man," which sounds like Oklahoma! recast as a Soviet constructivist opera), but the tunes and lyrics are immediately catchy and extremely witty in a Broadway style. The combination is both extremely odd and brilliantly fascinating. Product Music, Volume One also includes a few promotional singles that were given away to advertise various products. Sixties pop collectors will be most interested in "Shake It" for Texas-based Borden's Dairy, which was written and performed by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Other highlights include 7-11's "Dance the Slurp" (featuring a crazed breakdown solo performed on a Slurpee!) and "The Frito Twist," which is only nominally a twist but is certainly about Fritos. Essential for collectors of pop ephemera, Product Music, Vol. 1 is remarkably entertaining.