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Jan 232018
 

review dr demento covered in punkLet’s be blunt: No one needs novelty songs.

Loosely defined as “a satirical or comedic parody of popular music,” most people instinctively leave the room – or the house – at the first whiff.

Or do they? What, then, explains the enduring popularity of Dr. Demento, querulous-voiced prankster and legitimate, if puzzling, cultural icon? A rock ’n roll writer, label A&R man, and sometime roadie, he began broadcasting a rock and oldies show at Pasadena station KPPC in 1970. He quickly found that the novelty songs he slipped in – notably Nervous Norvus’ “Transfusion,” a truly demented tale about reckless driving, and a precursor to the Cramps’ psychobilly – were what his listeners really wanted to hear.

Now 76, Dr. Demento – a.k.a. Barret Eugene Hansen – ceased terrestrial radio broadcast in 2010, though his program persists online. And now we’re treated to Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, by some counts his 15th official album release. If you’re already hooked on the good doctor’s offbeat charms, you’re likely not in need of encouragement to purchase this collection of supposedly “punk” covers (more on that later) interspersed with the Doctor’s commentary. But can we rightfully recommend this 2+ hour compilation to the rest of the record-buying public? The answer, surprisingly, is: “Yes!” Sort of.

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Dec 042017
 
weird al ramones

Master of oddball radio Dr. Demento is largely credited with popularizing “Weird Al” Yankovic by being the first DJ to play his music on the radio. The Weird One recently returned the favor by recording an accordion-driven cover of the the Ramones’ “Beat on the Brat” for Dr. Demento’s upcoming Covered in Punk compilation, the second single from that compilation after William Shatner’s version of the Cramps’ “Garbageman”.

Just to be clear, Al’s “Beat on the Brat” is not a parody. Though to be fair, the refrain to the original is so ridiculous that it might as well be a joke. The same could be said for most of the Ramones’ catalogue. For this version, “Weird Al” is backed by punk-rock supergroup Osaka Popstar, which recorded its own version in 2008. Continue reading »

Nov 162017
 
shatner cramps cover

Long before the Internet treated us to daily doses of celebrities behaving oddly, William Shatner released his infamous spoken-word cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Included on his 1968 camp classic The Transformed Man, the song has set a high-water mark for low culture, routinely appearing on “worst of” lists. Though to be fair to the Captain, it’s not as weird as Leonard Nimoy’s ode to Middle Earth, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.”

The man who was Kirk (and to a lesser extent T.J. Hooker) adds another chapter to his way-out-there-in-the-blue singing career with a cover of the Cramps’ 1980 song “Garbageman.” The track will be included on a forthcoming 64-track compilation from the novelty-record king Dr. Demento, entitled Covered In Punk. The two-CD/three-vinyl set will include punk rock-flavored covers from a wide variety of artists, including Elvira, Moon Unit Zappa, “Weird Al” Yankovic and the original Batman himself, Adam West. Continue reading »

Sep 092010
 

Are you feeling nerdy? I don’t mean, “watch a little Star Trek” nerdy. I mean, “watch lots of Star Trek alone in your mom’s basement dressed in full Jean-Luc Picard circa Season 3 apparel” nerdy. I mean, “working on volume seven of your Dr. Leonard McCoy fan fiction anthology” nerdy. I mean, “stay up ‘til 4a.m. wondering how Klingons pee” nerdy.

Still with me? I’m sorry. You really should consider getting some fresh air. Until you do though, here’s a video to tide you over. It doesn’t get more meme-y than this. The occasion: Penny-Arcade Expo 2010, a gathering for those who find Comic-Con too trendy. The performers: “world’s 579th greatest rapper” MC Frontalot, Dr. Demento favs Paul & Storm, and über-geek songwriter Jonathan Coulton. The songs: Double Rainbow Song (which we’ve heard covered before) and the Bed Intruder Song. It’s really nerdy. And really fun. And really, really, really nerdy. Continue reading »