Various Artists

Vinyl Vic's Rare & Obscure Answer Records, Vol. 3

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Once upon a time, if an artist scored a major hit single, it was all but guaranteed they would be rewarded with an "answer record," in which another artist wrote and recorded a tune that imagined another side of the story described in the original's lyrics. While some answer songs became major successes -- Kitty Wells' first big hit, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," was a response to Hank Thompson's "Wild Side of Life" -- most had a short shelf-life that faded out once the originals dropped off the charts, and Vinyl Vic's Rare & Obscure Answer Records, Vol. 3 is a collection that features 30 hard to find sides most record collectors would scramble for, assuming they even know they exist. Some are obvious parodies, especially "Dee Dee Please Take Your Love to Town" by Loobie Doobee Doo & the Javelin Catchers (a take-off on the First Edition's "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"), "Short Fat Outlaw" by the Hollywood Argyles (Kim Fowley's rewrite of "Long Tall Texan"), and "The Army Wrote Me a Letter" by Jerry Montgomery & the Monts (a draft dodger's reply to the Box Tops' "The Letter"), while "I Must Lose Him (Sturis in the Punim a la Nudge)" is clearly an inside joke, taking aim at bandleader Dave Pell (and featuring some humor not suitable for airplay). But plenty of tracks take their narratives reasonably seriously, and Jean Kiff's "Answer to Hey Baby" replicates the sound of Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby" with impressive accuracy. There are even a few big names on board; Debbie Reynolds tackles "Answer to You Better Move On," and the Falcons, whose membership included Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd, makes the lineup with "We Stopped and Thought It Over." Either way, hearing so many familiar tunes turned upside down is plenty of fun, despite occasional flaws in the audio (most of these were clearly sourced from vinyl), and for serious students of popular culture, this set is a treasure trove of bizarro-world pop and rock.

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