Red Blanchard / Nervous Norvus

Zorch!

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Jimmy Drake was a truck driver and part-time songwriter who got the opportunity to go pro in 1956 when fate turned him into a one-hit wonder. Drake had an offbeat sense of humor and was a big fan of Red Blanchard, a musician and disc jockey whose Los Angeles radio show often featured hipster comedy routines delivered in mid-'50s hep talk. Drake sent Blanchard a rough demo of a tune he'd written about reckless driving; Blanchard tricked it up with some sound effects, and after a few spins on the air, Dot Records struck a deal to release the song as a single. "Transfusion," in which a hot-rodder repeatedly needs new blood after promising to never speed again, became an immediate hit even after many radio stations banned it, claiming it was in poor taste, and Nervous Norvus, as Drake was credited on the record, was a singing star for a few months. If the Nervous One's days as a celebrity were few, his desire to write and record was great, and Zorch! features 13 classic Nervous Norvus sides (including his complete Dot Records output), four more numbers he released as Jimmy Drake, two covers of Drake compositions by the Paris Sisters, and a rare recording from Red Blanchard. Add in two covers of "Transfusion" (by the Four Jokers and future comedy star Scatman Crothers) and you get an entertaining overview of the surprising peaks of Jimmy Drake's career in music. Folks who want a more in-depth collection of Nervous Norvus' recorded work should investigate Stone Age Woo, a 33-track treasure trove of Norvus/Drake recordings, but if you're most interested in "Transfusion" and its ongoing influence, Zorch! is well worth a listen.

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