Morey Amsterdam / Red Buttons / Art Carney

Second Banana Symphony: Singing Comedians from TV

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This compilation gathers some rare and otherwise difficult to locate 45-rpm recordings from a trio of comedians primarily known for their work during the "golden age" of television rather than as recording artists. Second Banana Symphony -- Singing Comedians from TV (2003) commences with both respective sides of four mid-'50s singles from vaudeville-style humorist Red Buttons. Elliot Lawrence and his orchestra accompany on the call-and-response "Strange Things Are Happening (Ho Ho Hee Hee Ha Ha)" and the follow-up flip side, "The Ho Ho Song." The audience heard on the track is real, and was actually shipped in from a local theater to the studio where the tune was being taped. Both instantly caught on and became Top 20 hits. The relative success spawned further collaborations with Lawrence and later platters under the direction of Mitch Miller and Jimmy Carroll. Joining Buttons on co-lead vocals on "Practice, Darling Practice" and the touching "My Mother's Lullaby" is Gertrude Berg as Molly Goldberg from the hugely popular Goldbergs radio and subsequent TV show circa 1954. Morey Amsterdam was not only a gifted storyteller, he was a multi-instrumentalist as well. His offerings on this anthology include "Cheese and Crackers" as well as the novelty whiz-bang "Calliope Pete." While the former is reminiscent of the Hoosier Hot Shots' cornball antics, the latter is almost an attempt at pop music as Amsterdam sing-speaks his lines in a pseudo-jazz scat. The remainder of the disc consists of Art Carney's mid-'50s material for Columbia. He carries over his Honeymooners persona of Ed Norton on "Song of the Sewer," "Va Va Va Voom," and "Sheesh, What a Grouch!" Also incorporated are the quaint "I'm Just a Vagabond Lover" and the silly symphonic "That's Falling in Love." However, the highlight is undoubtedly "She Never Left the Table," as Carney puts on other notable pop stars of the era.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:39
2 2:43
3
2:51
4
2:19
5
2:45
6 2:32
7
2:41
8
2:55
9
2:29
10
2:17
11 2:40
12
2:52
13
3:24
14 2:50
15
2:22
16
2:51
17
2:50
18
2:38
19
2:44
20
2:10
blue highlight denotes track pick