The ad on eBay was typical enough — it featured a group of old records spread out on the floor. But, I noticed some curious items in the pack of 11 picture disc records dating back to the 1940s that intrigued me: amidst the typical children’s fare of pretty kitties and Jack Sprat fairy tale fodder were some unusual art pieces that I felt might be cool to see (and own!) up close and personal. The $20 “buy it now” option sealed the deal. The discs arrived yesterday, and although the lack of a working 78 RPM-capable turntable keeps me from listening to some of the discs at present, I think some of these picture discs can tell a story of sorts without even playing them.
Laugh Laugh — My mother used to tell me about a “laughing record” that was popular when she was a little girl, which featured nothing but people laughing hysterically. Perhaps this was a song inspired by that. Or, perhaps the Beau Brummels were inspired by it in the 1960s?
Muffin Man — Frank Zappa wrote a song called “Muffin Man” in the mid ’70s that became a frequent concert closer for years. Sexual innuendo aside, I often wondered where Frank may have gotten the idea for this song, or at least the title. Perhaps — perhaps, just perhaps — he had a children’s record like this as a kid growing up in Baltimore. That’s pure speculation, mind you, but it’s curious nonetheless.
Looby Loo — Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh fame uses the persona “Loobie” for his solo material. This is just so random to find a kids record — or any record — from more than 50 years ago with a similar moniker. That the artwork looks like it could have been drawn by Lou is all the more weird. Well, this could have been some alternate universe Radiohead artwork too.
Hey Diddle Diddle Dumpling — Really? I’ve heard of a song called “Diddly Daddy” by Bo Diddly. I’ve heard of P-Diddy. I’ve heard of a song called “Diddy Wah Diddy” by Captain Beefheart. And of course the nursery rhyme “Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle.” There are even videos of “Diddle Diddle Dumpling” on YouTube. But haven’t found one called Hey Diddle Diddle Dumpling. I guess I was cheated out on this one as a kid.
Cat vs. Mouse — Nothing musically related here, just a cool old comic strip look for the age-old cat vs. mouse schtick. The art on this one is really cool looking and frankly pretty scary for little kids (I would think)! That cat looks ready to pounce on dinner.
Hopefully I’ll have a chance to give all of these discs a listen soon, but even without unlocking the sounds locked within the grooves of these discs, the pictures alone tell quite a story, and I’m happy to add each of them to my collection.