Are you familiar with the old budget label Pickwick Records? Lou Reed worked there for a while? I try to pick up Pickwick releases whenever I see them in dollar bins because they are about the most fascinatingly pathetic records you're ever going to hear. The label is best known for its endless series of albums designed to trick dumb parents into buying the wrong records for their rock-loving kids; in my personal collection, you'll find such gems as BILLY JOEL SONGBOOK as performed by the 52nd sound, SOUNDS LIKE THE BEE GEES as performed by the neon nights, SOUNDS LIKE THE EAGLES as performed by mirror image, MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER not the original soundtrack, and the mediocre masterwork SOUNDS OF THE WOODSTOCK AGE played and sung by tribes, a double-LP Woodstock ripoff complete with fake announcements and cheering between each studio-recorded cover tune (ex. "The large white tent on the right is the First Aid Station. Behind that, some volunters from the village have set up some tables with food.... Also, Mr. Frank Daniel: your friend Ed and also Carol have your wallet and your shirt at the Information Center.")
But did you know that Pickwick also had a line of records aimed towards our country's most important natural resource besides oil, the children? Mr. Pickwick was just such a label! A smiling little cartoon man with a top hat, white puffy sideburns and no nose, Mr. Pickwick proudly delivered to the children of the '70s his own individual take on such timeless fairy tales as "Dumbo," "Frosty The Snowman," "Sesame Street" and "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan." But look, we're not here to talk about little cartoon men; let's talk Peekays Kiddie Band! That's why you're here, right? Shit yeah! You're all a bunch of Peekays Kiddie Band superfan motherfuckers!!!
On what I'd have to imagine is their sole LP, The Peekays Kiddie Band (most likely a bunch of people who worked in Pickwick's mail room) perform 32 children's songs and nursery rhymes in a '70s soul/rock style. The tracks are driven by a great funky bass and crisp steady drums, which are topped with any combination of the following elements: electric guitar that mostly just makes 'wicka wicka' noises, warm sustained piano, Billy Preston-style organ, saxophone, and the SINGLE WORST SYNTHESIZER EVER BUILT, a fwizzy fwoofy retarded-sounding pile of atonal shit that sounds like Keith Emerson threw his moog off a building and an old man with one finger is playing his favorite old tunes on the smashed remains. So why isn't it called Kiddie Rock/Soul Party (With Ugly, Moronic Synthesizer)? My guess: they'd already completed the cover art before listening to the record.
Speaking of listening to the record, the back cover features the text "The best recommendation we can give this recording is to reprint for you some absolutely honest down - to - earth, straight from the heart comments that we have received from a group of youngsters who cordially agreed to review the disc for us," followed by twelve capsule reviews in children's handwriting overlaid on a fake piece of loose-leaf notebook paper. This is all fine and good, but did anybody at the label actually READ the comments before putting them on the album cover? And if so, then how did THIS 'recommendation' sneak onto the final product alongside such accolades as "I liked just to sit and lessen to it" and "It was the best songs I ever herd"? (This one here, below):
"It's okay but I don't know when there is another song. I isn't that much Disco. I wouldn't like to buy it and I don't like the beat. I don't recommend it."
Well alright then! That settles it!
Returning to the actual music (and what he means by "I don't know when there is another song" is that each song runs directly into the next with no breaks, and that he's not very intelligent), if there's one thing children love, it's FUNNY VOICES! And if The Peekays Kiddie Band have left no other legacy, they can at least take pride in the fact that without this record, the world would have about 50 fewer funny voices in it. Haughty rich woman? Check! Ridiculously gruff Texan? Got it! Doddering old man? And how! Hicks and rednecks? Jive-talkin' darkies? Sped-up chipmunks singing in harmony? Galore, galore and you bet! Even if a song begins with a normal male/female group vocal, you better you bet that within seconds they'll have a couple of wacky voices chipping in a verse or two. This is one of the many, many things that The Peekays Kiddie Band has in common with Ween. Other examples include the thematic similarity between The Peekays Kiddie Band's "Three Little Kittens" and Ween's "Let Me Lick Your Pussy."
You know what? Lots of little kids' songs sound the same. Same chord changes, very little variation. Add to that the PKB's habit of backing spoken nursery rhymes with generic Joe Cocker choogle-soul-boogie and you've got a maddeningly inconsistent record for your bladderingly incontinent grandmother. It's got some great driving classics though (speaker-bouncing "Hokey Pokey," super-energetic "Polly Wolly Doodle," wicked cool downward riding "Turkey In The Straw") as well as some honestly funny moments: the unnecessarily loud Yosemite Sam narrator of "Buffalo Gals" is a scream, you can't beat the absent-minded old fool who recites the alphabet as "A-B-C-umm-F sharp-H-uhh-Alamo-TV...," and the overdubbed dumbass pointlessly complaining about the chorale singing "The Old Grey Mare, she ISN'T what she used to be" rather than "AIN'T" is a pretty good sign that even the band members were getting bored by the end of the session.
All in all, I gotta give Mr. Pickwick credit for releasing a children's record with such a (truly!) groovy rhythm section and so many funny voices. The problem is really in the material, not the delivery. Is there honestly ANY way to make shit like "Rub A Dub Dub," "To Market, To Market" and "Rig A Jig" worth listening to? Not on my tits there's not, and if your tits are anything like mine, I'm sure you feel the same way. Also -- who gave them the fucking NERVE to take two songs as great as (a) "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" and (b) "On The Bridge At Avignon" and completely RUIN them by (a) reducing the awesome vocal melody to like two notes and (b) slowing it down to a blocky half-tempo? Whoever gave them that nerve should think about the consequences of their action. Which reminds me of another great Emo Philips joke: "You know what I really hate? Indian givers. (pause) No, I take that back."
Say, did any of you readers attend a public elementary school in the '70s? If so, what songs do you remember from your music classes? I'm 32 now, and the only ones I can remember are "Old House (Tear It Down)," "Tingalayo (Come Little Donkey Come)," "The Ghost of John," "Mama Paquita," "There Was An Old Lady, All Skin And Bones," "Standing In Front Of The Record Store," "Run Run Run (Through The Sunlight)," "Senor Don Gato" and "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch." Did you used to sing any of those? And how about you younger people? What did you sing in YOUR youthful music classes?
After that, we'll reminisce about our favorite cereals from our childhood and then sing some old TV themes. God, this is gonna be a fuckin' GREAT Gen X sleepover! I'll bring the Liz Phair!
Huh? No, I mean the actual Liz Phair. She's a manager at Hardee's now.
I did catch the inside joke from your own song.
You need to review the greatest children's album of all times "The Left Rights". I'll give you an actual review of this album from Amazon to prove my point:
Bow down to Mike Patton......., May 25, 2005
Reviewer: BLEEKER (NYC)
MSI, Ween, etc all owe there lives to Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton!
Okay, well enough of the reviews. Let's get back to the album. Who couldn't love a kid's album with lyrics "I hate honkeys. I hate honkeys. I hate honkeys." (sung by a honkey), "Shit. I want to take a shit. Everybody want to take a shit." and "I might like a pee in the park. I might be a guy named Mark (who's a weirdo). I might like a pepper poo star. But I'm not a weirdo." What's your name again?
Elem school in the 60's though...
Also remember "C.O.F.F.E.E." and "Git Along Little Dogies". What were they thinking?
No wonder I turned to drugs in junior high! Sounds like the PeeKays may have hed their share as well.