Thursday, March 10, 2011

Allan Sherman: "My Son, The Celebrity" (1963/2010 re-issue) CD Review

Allan Sherman followed up his first #1 comedic album of song parodies with a second #1 album of song parodies. This one features "Harvey And Sheila."

Allan Sherman's first album, My Son, The Folk Singer, was such a success that of course he would quickly follow it up with another. And it's only logical that it would be called My Son, The Celebrity. After all, Allan Sherman was now famous. His first album hit #1 on the charts, and it remained on the charts for a year. This second album also landed on the #1 spot.

Like his first album, this album was recorded in front of an audience of friends (who once again had access to an open bar). But this time it took three sessions rather than just the one it took for the first album. At the second of these sessions, Allan Sherman celebrated his 38th birthday.

"Al 'N Yetta"

The album opens with "Al 'N Yetta," a song about a couple who simply, happily sit around, watching television. That is, until disaster strikes, and the picture tube breaks. Allan sings, "Al 'n' Yetta/Couldn't have it better/Their TV set has remote control/So they both can stay in bed/With Frankenstein and Mr. Ed." This song lists lots of television programs from the time, and is sung to the tune of "Alouette."

"Let's All Call Up A.T.&T. And Protest To The President March"

"Let's All Call Up A.T.&T. And Protest To The President March" is, as it suggests, a marching tune. It's about protesting the all-digit dialing, which was new at the time. AT&T had a monopoly then, so the line "If he won't change the rules/Let's take our business to another phone company" gets a big laugh.

"Harvey And Sheila"

"Harvey And Sheila" is one of the best songs on the album. It's sung to the tune of "Hava Nagila," and it tells the story of the relationship between Harvey and Sheila. The story is told partially and humorously with abbreviations - and this was years before "Initials" used the same idea to comic effect in the musical Hair (putting LBJ on the IRT).

The lyrics include, "Harvey's a CPA/He works for IBM/He went to MIT/And got his PhD" and "She shopped at A&P/He bought a used MG/They sat and watched TV/On their RCA/Borrowed from HFC/Bought some AT&T/And on election day, worked for JFK." The song details the changing of their lives. They have kids and join the PTA. The line about them joining the Republican Party is hilarious. "That's the way things go."

"No One's Perfect"

Allan Sherman starts "No One's Perfect" by saying, "We would now like to salute all the beautiful singing groups all over the world." A serious choir sings this one. It's hilarious when the choir rushes a couple of lines because of the great number of words they need to fit into a certain measure. Like on the first album, singing a song seriously adds greatly to its comedic effect.

Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Far above the other singers/In the treble clef/A soprano sings in B flat/But the key is F/No one's perfect, no one's perfect/We have learned tonight/So you'll be astounded/When we hit this last note right."

"When I Was A Lad"

"When I Was A Lad" is based on the Gilbert & Sullivan song of the same name from H.M.S. Pinafore, but changed to the tale of a Yale graduate who makes his way up. Material from H.M.S. Pinafore has been parodied many times, and used for comedic effect in such shows as The Simpsons, Pinky And The Brain and Family Guy.


"Me" is a song that Allan Sherman sings about himself, about his body. About his hands, he sings, "My hands are full of fingers/Very good as doorbell ringers/And the thought of fingers lingers/In my haunted memory." This is one of the silliest and best songs on this album. At the end of the song he sings, "On my face, two eyebrows/They're not your brows, they're my brows/Behind those eyebrows, that's where you'll find me."

"Shticks Of One And Half A Dozen Of The Other"

Allan Sherman ends this album in a way similar to the first album, with a medley of parodies. And once it gets going, just like "Shticks And Stones" from the other album, it's vocals and drums and handclaps and laughs. It ends with "Down By The Riverside" becoming "Don't Buy The Liverwurst."

CD Track List

  1. Al 'N Yetta
  2. Medley: Barry Is The Baby's Name & Horowitz & Get On The Garden Freeway
  3. Mexican Hat Dance
  4. The Bronx Bird Watcher
  5. The Let's All Call Up AT&T And Protest To The President March
  6. Harvey And Sheila
  7. Won't You Come Home, Disraeli?
  8. No One's Perfect
  9. When I Was A Lad
  10. Me
  11. Shticks Of One And Half A Dozen Of The Other

As on the first album, Lou Busch arranged the music.

My Son, The Celebrity is scheduled to be released on September 7, 2010. Collectors' Choice Music is releasing all eight Allan Sherman Warner Bros. albums, which include My Son, The Folk Singer (1962), My Son, The Nut (1963) and For Swingin' Livers Only! (1964).

(Note: I originally posted this review on August 6, 2010.)

No comments:

Post a Comment