The Goons

Unchained Melodies: The Complete Singles Recordings 1955-1978

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Though the Goons are known primarily as a spoken word comedy team, they also recorded their share of musical parodies. This highly enjoyable 14-track compilation is dominated by singles they released on Decca in the U.K. in 1956 and 1957, fleshed out by a couple 1955 recordings that didn't get released until 1990, as well as a 1978 reunion single. Few popular music styles escaped their arrows, the songs taking shots at rock & roll, opera, popular standards, Christmas odes, music hall, and even yodeling country & western. They even yielded two double-sided British hits in 1956, "Bluebottle Blues"/"I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas" and "The Ying Tong Song"/"Bloodnok's Rock and Roll Call." Listening to these recordings several decades down the line, it's obvious how substantial an influence the trio of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Harry Secombe were on subsequent British comedians. The use of funny voices can be very similar to Monty Python's, especially the nasal high-pitched ones, while the intro to "Eeh! Ah! Oh! Ooh!" makes the Goons' connection to the Bonzo Dog Band clear. But even taken aside from its historical context, this is funny (and non-dated) stuff, the trio deflating all manner of musical pomposity with charm, superb timing, and deft insertion of silly sound effects (with, on four of the tracks, help from producer George Martin). The 16-page booklet of liner notes is a helpful survey of the Goons' career in general, and their comedy recordings in particular.

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