Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adventures In Recordland, #15: The Bs, part 12

I tried to do three records today. Turned out one was cracked and I had to do throw it away! So here are the two I got done today.

#1: Oscar Brand- "For Doctors Only", 1960:

Oscar Brand (who, I found out, is still with us and 94 years old at the time of this writing) was a folk singer who released an impressive number of albums in the '60s. This album consists of a whopping 14 songs, all humorous ditties about various aspects of the medical profession. As the title implies, I'm sure it's funnier if you're actually a doctor- not all of the humor is quite knee-slappingly hilarious for a layman like myself. And while some of the tunes are clever and generally enjoyable, a full half-hour of this sort of thing is a bit much. The humor is a bit on the corny and slightly naughty side (a line about a gynecologist "starting from the bottom"- which is used in just one, but two different songs). I find it wears out its welcome after a while- 14 songs concerning one general topic is more than enough- but fortunately the songs are all about 2-3 minutes long, so even the one-joke songs are not completely run into the ground. There are some cute moments.

#2: Fanny Brice- "Baby Snooks And Daddy", 1974:

Coincidentally enough, today is Fanny Brice's birthday. She was one of the great stars of vaudeville for many years, but I find it unfortunate that she's best-known today, if at all, for the child character Baby Snooks which she played on radio for many years.
In small doses, these routines are fine, and a good showcase for Brice's good comic timing, and Hanley Stafford as Daddy was a solid straightman. They can be funny- I got some laughs out of this album- but I was never a big fan of the character. Neither one of them is really likeable or sympathetic- Snooks is a rather obnoxious brat, and Daddy gets easily frustrated with her and yells at her a lot. There's not much more to it than that. Not to mention that most of the routines end with Daddy giving Snooks an abusive smack- certainly something which is uncomfortable to hear today. But it's never been my favorite of the old-time radio shows. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.

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