Friday, November 14, 2008
Back in my film school days at Columbia College in Chicago, I took a class entitled "History Of Cinema" and met a teacher named Scott Marks. Scott was the first teacher who got all my inside jokes, pop-culture references, and shared a love for movies, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Jr., and a certain Chicago newspaper columnist named Irv Kupcinet (don't ask...).
Scott gave me a cassette tape (which I still own - it survived the great Toledo fire) that contained several outtakes of celebrities. For the first time in my life, I heard Barry White (NSFW) trying to record a commercial for Paul Quinn College, Linda McCartney's isolated "Hey Jude" mike from Knebworth in 1990, and an amazing outtake from Martin & Lewis (NSFW) recording a radio commercial for the film "The Caddy".
It was raw, uncensored, and excruciatingly funny. I was hooked. I began searching offline and online, trying to find new celeb outtakes, cleaner copies of the outtakes, and in some instances, the ORIGINALS of the outtakes (like the album you see here).
There once existed in this country a thriving market for "party records" - pressed privately on 78 RPMs and sold under-the-counter. Many artists like Kay Martin, Belle Barth, Woody Woodbury, Redd Foxx, and Rusty Warren all had a booming business with these type of albums.
Another person from this time was Kermit Schaefer - the man responsible for all those "Pardon My Blooper" albums over the years. Schaefer periodically had authentic outtakes on his collections but almost ALL were horrible re-creations - some based on hearsay and myth that Kermit perpetuated as fact. Just ask Uncle Don.
When 78's died out and LPs took over this market, celebrities also found a way into the genre. The Martin & Lewis outtake was sold on a party album entitled "The Caddie XXX". Dean reportedly spent thousands of dollars trying to buy any and all copies of this album to keep them out of circulation.
Bing Crosby was one of the first performers to pre-record his radio shows (most notably "The Kraft Music Hall Show") with the advent of tape recorders in the 1940s. Several outtakes were compiled on a famous 78 RPM party record entitled "Crosby Blows His Top". Among these gaffes was this little gem from which the album derived its name:
Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters - Jingle Bells (blow-up)
Flash forward to 1958. A 14 yr. old lad by the name of Al Kooper contributed a mean guitar riff on The Royal Teens lone hit "Short-Shorts" ("Who wears short shorts?). When he was 21, he moved to Greenwich Village in New York City where he met Bob Dylan. When Dylan was going electric, Kooper helped out by playing organ on Dylan's 1965 seminal hit "Like A Rolling Stone" and at the infamous Newport Folk Festival concert.
Kooper went on to form The Blues Project and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. He was also responsible for the music behind the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning classic "The Banana Splits" while helping stellar acts such as The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, and Cream.
Kooper also found the time to release 11 albums of his own since 1968 and discovered a band named Lynyrd Skynyrd, producing their first three albums. He is also an author - "Backstage Passes: Rock 'n' Roll Life In The Sixties", written in 1977, is all about the perils of the music industry. This book was updated in 1998 under the title "Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards: Memoirs of a Rock 'N' Roll Survivor".
Some time in the 1970s (long after the party records market died out), Kooper decided to create something special for his family & friends at Christmas. To quote Al:
I collected star bloopers and just extraneous humorous audio bytes. I had built up a network of wackos who sent me good stuff. One Christmas, I decided to edit it all together, press up LPs and send them out for Christmas. This was pre-CD - mid 1970s. I called it 'The Kapusta Kristmas Album' after an Ernie Kovacs character, The Kapusta Kid. I pressed about 300 and it was greatly appreciated by my mailing list."
Over the years, five more were made. Each one of these six albums are all much sought after on eBay, GEMM, Musicstack, you name it. I had previously missed out on two albums in the past and when this was offered on eBay as "Buy It Now", I jumped on the chance to get it.
Recorded around the time Kooper was writing the musical score for the 1980s TV show "Crime Story" (1986-1988), this album culls many obscure audio oddities, vulgar and profane language from celebrities and regular Joes, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious tracks not meant for full public consumption.
Many of the tracks from these albums over the years have filtered down from vinyl to cassette to MP3. Many have been edited horribly, come from third or fourth generation sources, and posted online in different forums and P2P programs.
One online music company packaged a bunch of these together and named them "Celebrities At Their Worst" and got more than enough shouts of huzzah for the "courage" for releasing these. (If you get through to someone there, let me know - they haven't answered their phone in over two years).
Sorry... if it wasn't for these Kooper albums, they would have had zilch.
Al began the whole underground of sharing celebrity outbursts like the infamous outtakes (NSFW) by The Troggs that inspired the film "This Is Spinal Tap", Paul Anka's backstage rant (NSFW) ("the guys get SHIRTS!"), or the Beach Boys astounding "Help Me Rhonda" (NSFW) recording session tapes.
I gave serious thought about posting this album when I purchased it. However, I read Al's disclaimer on the back on the album cover and decided it's a Kristmas album, not a Christmas album - therefore, it won't be posted. REPEAT: It won't be posted (don't ask). I'll play it from time to time and laugh outrageously in the privacy of my own home - per Kooper's instructions.
If anyone has any of the other five albums, please let us know. I would love to complete the set.