A New Crop of Holy Joe’s

Ronald K. Wells
“I Wonder”
1969, Crescendo Music

Ah, the Christian musical… a reaction to the “new thinking” of the 1960′s and revisionist hippie musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar.  This one has some pretty great narration along with the tunes.  I think I’m going to raid the “Christan hippies” section of my record library to find a few more of these!

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Teen Fad FAIL: The Bump Ball

The Bumpers (aka The Combinations)

The Official Bump Ball© Record
Pickwick/Milton Bradley, 1968

From my Houston Press blog, 3/2009:

Does it have rules?

What makes you think it’s a game?
Is it a game?
Will it break?
It better break eventually!
Is there an object?
What if you tire before it’s done?

Does it come with batteries?
We could charge extra for them.
Is it safe for toddlers?
How can you tell when you’re finished?
How do you make it stop?
Is that a boy’s model?

Is there a larger model for the obese?
What if you tire before it’s done?
What the hell is it?

One imagines this kind of Hudsucker Proxy conversation going on in the Milton Bradley boardroom when the idea for the Bump Ball© was being tossed around. Always on the lookout for the next Hula Hoop, an extruded plastic dingus which sold 100 million units in four months in 1958, Milton Bradley seemed to think they found it in the Bump Ball©.

In 1967, the game company approached the Combinations, a garage band from Easton, Pennsylvania, and asked them to be the sound for what they hoped would be the next new dance and game craze. Dance Instructor to the Stars “Killer Joe” Piro was recruited to write and perform the dance (he’s the guy on the cover).

Listen to “Bump Ball”:

The band was put up in a New York studio with Julie Andrews’ producer and James Brown’s horn section and emerged with one song… the steaming pile of crap that serves as the title track to this record. The song is an awkward mish-mash that sounds like it was recorded by three different bands who couldn’t hear one another. But that didn’t stop Milton Bradley from thinking they had the Next Big Thing on their hands.

The Combinations, aka The Bumpers

“Once upon a time in the way out kingdom of contemporary America,” the back cover eyerollingly states, “a ball was invented. No ordinary ball this one. A big, soft, spongy ball with crazy bumps all over it. The cats at Milton Bradley threw the Bump Ball © into the teen scene – and a whole new bag was born.”

Hopefully a trash bag, if MB manufactured anything close to the number of Bump Ball©s they thought they were going to sell. “A whole new breed of kids latched onto this crazy new dance fad, creating a twisting, laughing, falling group that quickly became the ‘BUMP BALL BOPPERS’ as the mass media dubbed them. They deserted in droves from the flower children to join this new transcendental experience. It was the answer to America’s searching youth. It was Anti-Establishment – and a gas at the same time.”

Uh huh. So what was one supposed to do with the Bump Ball©? Apparently, the idea was to toss the ball in the air and keep it from hitting the ground by pressing it between you and the nearest hot chick while gyrating to the Bump Ball© theme song. A 45 of the song was included with every ball. “It’s time the boys got closer to the girls,” the album cover continues. The concept had everything. Dancing. Sex. Balls. Rock n’ roll. How could the Bump Ball© fail?

It did. Now, I can’t say just how well the Bump Ball© sold. All I can say is, just about the only references to it on the Internets are to this record. Apparently the “mass media,” apart from an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, never even noticed. I did manage to find one authentic Bump Ball© on eBay; a bit tatty but with original box and instruction manual, a steal at $9.99. One. So I’m guessing they didn’t sell 100 million.

One last footnote to the story of the Bump Ball© record. The Combinations, although credited on the 45 single that came with the ball, are not even mentioned on this LP. Instead, the named artist is a nonexistent band called The Bumpers. What’s ultimately ironic is that the rest of this LP, apart from the dismal title track, is actually pretty decent, Beatles-esque ’60s garage pop, the kind record-collector geeks go crazy for.

What must it be like to have your band’s big debut album be packaged as a gimmicky toy promotion, then have your name removed from it altogether? I hope the Combinations at least got some free Bump Ball©s out of the deal.

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The Beatles & Jesus Christ

The Valley-Aires
“The Beatles & Jesus Christ”

I took these pics of records from someone’s great collection at the MSP Music Expo in Minneapolis. I’m just now posting them! Of course I forgot the guy’s name who they belonged to, so if you see this send me an email so I can give you credit!

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disco teen 66

various
“Disco Teen ’66″
Columbia record club #D 155
1966

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12 top hits

“12 Top Hits”
Tops #L1510

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In the days before beer pong and kegstands

Eddie Miller and his Blue Notes
“Frat Hop”
Tops #L1571

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The Original Animal House

The Mayfair ALL-STAR Orchestra
“Frat House Party”
Golden Tone #C 4020

MAILBAG:

Hi, I’m Guga from Sardinia, Italy. I came up in your site and it’s really great, I had a really great time. But I have a question. Is it just an impression of mine, or the people and the place in “Mayfair ALL-STAR Orchestra – Frat House Party” cover and “various – 12 top hits” are the same?!?

There is the same grey wall, the same green sofa and the same yellow/orange chair and the same plant behind the sofa. The dancing girl in 12 Top Hits is sitting on the yellow chair (notice the socks! :P) in Frat House Party, and her “mate” near her. The dancing girl in Frat House Party is (notice socks and shirt) on the sofa in 12 Top Hits near the dancing guy. And there’s another couple who probably doesn’t like dancing in both covers.

Is there a reason for that? Or is it just that publishers didn’t have a great sense for beauty?

– Guga


BR: Good eye, Guga. Many of these cheapo-o Tops/Mayfair records seem to have the covers shot on what I assume is the company loading dock. You’ll even see the same cover pic on two different records!

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They like me! They REALLY like me!

Bobby Krane & his Orch.
“Teen Age Dance Party”
Bravo! #K131

This cover exists for several different records.

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Real surfers don’t wear that much clothing.

The Centurions
“Surfers’ Pajama Party”
Del-Fi #1228
(John Spath collection)
MAILBAG:

“When Del-Fi Records released the one and only album by The Centurions, they mistakenly gave it the exact same cover and catalog number as the [Bruce Johnston] Surfers’ Pajama Party that is shown on your site… Needless to say, it was nearly impossible for anyone to order the Centurions album and they soon met the fate of so many other West Coast surf-rock bands (that is, until the overrated Quentin Tarantino and the underrated John Waters pulled tracks from the album for the films Pulp Fiction and Pink Flamingos, respectively.)”
–”Trash Toaster”

Although I first had this listed as the Bruce Johnston version, its actually the Centurions version! –BR

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teen vaseline

Timbiriche
“Vaselina”
Melody #MITV/032

wikipedia

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