Various Artists

Wackiest Album in the Universe, Vol. 1

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The 18 sides on this compilation are among the best-known novelty singles from "the golden age of rock & roll," circa the mid-'50s and early '60s. While a majority of the tunes are explicitly one-off comedic efforts -- "Monster Mash" (Bobby Pickett), "Purple People Eater" (Sheb Wooley), "Witch Doctor" (David Seville), and "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bed Post Overnight" (Rolf Harris) -- there are others that are essentially ultra-catchy (or should that read ultra-kitschy?) pop songs. Those would include "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" (Brian Hyland), "Pink Shoelaces" (Dodie Stevens), "Splish Splash" (Bobby Darin), and "Goodbye Cruel World" (James Darren). In addition to running over 70 minutes, 1997's Wackiest Album in the Universe, Vol. 1 boasts a few tracks from folks whose work may prove harder to find, such as the Playmates ("Beep Beep"), Little Jimmy Dickens ("May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose"), and Charlie Drake ("My Boomerang Won't Come Back"). It's worth mentioning that the audio fidelity is very good to excellent, which cannot always be said of multi-artist collections like this. None of the recordings have been derived from vinyl sources, or at least there is no aural evidence or other analog artifacts. This is a highly recommended anthology for all interested parties, and it should be noted that while the "Vol. 1" in the title suggests a follow-up, there were no successors in the immediately ensuing years.

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