The Vivino Brothers

The Uncle Floyd Show

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This album seems to be some of the only evidence left of a highly original and entertaining television show, The Uncle Floyd Show, that was produced locally in New Jersey during the '70s and early '80s. The brothers Floyd, Jerry, and Jimmy Vivino are obviously all great musical and performing talents, hams to be more exact. They sell themselves a bit short when they say this program was "probably the worst kiddie show ever," as the liner notes indicate as early as the first paragraph. Actually, children of the day who were also into equally fast-moving and sarcastic material, such as classic Looney Tunes cartoons or the work of Tex Avery, were quite fond of The Uncle Floyd Show, and would quickly click over more elaborate network shows to get to it. The musical quotient of the show was so important that this is the rare case where a soundtrack recording actually represents a typical taste of the production, despite the lack of visual element. A small attempt is made to compensate for the latter by providing a set of color photographs on the back cover, which at least should give some indication of how weird this show was. Floyd Vivino is quite an accomplished ragtime and boogie woogie pianist in the style of Roosevelt Sykes or Fats Waller. Although he certainly couldn't have won a cutting contest with either of those guys, his playing was fine in the context of the show, and a delightful and educational addition as well. He also played some guitar, accordion, and trumpet, and along with his multi-talented brothers, there are lots of musical bases that are covered. Jimmy produced and arranged the material on the album, which includes satires of old-time country and swing material, as well as some skits. Not all the material is brilliant, but there is heart galore and some really spot-on musical parodies, such as the hilarious sendup of the Boss in the form of Bruce Stringbean. The brothers and their backup associates are at their absolute best in situations like this, when they dress up and pretend to be a completely different band of some sort, staying in character musically no matter how absurd the pretense. Many of the episodes of this show were broadcast well before the days of home video units and may have been lost completely. One aspect of the show that was not possible to duplicate on record was the presence of a steady stream of guest rock bands, many of whom were cutting-edge new wave, punk, or garage outfits who were either local or were in New Jersey playing at clubs such as Maxwell's. Some of these performances were particularly memorable because of the setting and surprise element, and an anthology would certainly be enjoyable, if not particularly probable.

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