B-side of Randy, the Newspaper Boy
(Written by Bert Haney)
This is a record that attempts to take the wacky Halloween spirit of Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers’ Monster Mash (which, incidentally, I could quite happily go the entire rest of my life without ever hearing again), and give it a Christmas twist.
Yeah, you read that right.
It’s a two minute skit which mainly consists of comedian Bert Haney (a different “Ray Oddis” to the “Ray Oddis” featured on the A-side) doing a terrible Dracula accent, playing a monster having a conversation with his young son (played by Haney himself, his voice speeded up on tape) on Christmas Eve.
It’s, um… It’s not a masterpiece, let’s put it that way.
In fact, it’s manifestly awful on just about every level you can think of. The central concept – monster first-grader is lonely and wants a friend for Christmas – is mawkish and oddly out of place in what’s meant to be a jaunty comedy record, and anyway it’s ruined by a throwaway aside in the coda which reveals the child just wants to eat his new friend, thus undoing everything that went before for the sake of a cheap laugh (which it doesn’t even get anyway).
There’s a briefly touching moment between father and son in the middle (Your daddy loves you as you are!), which (as a new father myself) did “get” me, so that I was momentarily tempted to look fondly on this – but its potentially sweet and redeeming message (it’s okay to be different, kids!) is promptly wallpapered over with more weak gags (and again, it’s a sentiment that feels totally out of place in these wacky surroundings anyway).
And, of course, it’s a record featuring a man doing a sped-up comedy Transylvanian voice, which… I mean, come on.
Certainly it’s a surprise to be meeting Bert Haney again; his previous effort with Brice Armstrong, the utterly dismal The Interview (Summit Chanted Meeting), is my own personal pick for the worst Motown 45 you’ll ever find. Although to his great credit, Mr Haney did turn up here on Motown Junkies and show himself to be a good sport about the enthusiastic but fully justified kicking I delivered to that particular record.
The temptation, then, is to go easy on this – it was only meant to be a bit of fun, a piece of fluff aimed at riding the coat-tails of another novelty hit (cut in 1962, its subsequently being shelved for nearly two years, losing any potential impact as a contemporary Monster Mash parody, certainly doesn’t help its cause), and it’s not hurting anyone.
But it’s just so very, very bad, a bad idea turned into a bad song done badly, that I can’t find anything really nice to say about it. Sorry, Bert.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.
“Randy, the Newspaper Boy”
“Talkin’ To Your Picture”
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