Back in the days when the 45 RPM record was the dominent method of selling music, it wasn't all that unusual (particularly in the '60's) to find a b-side, or sometimes even an a-side, which was under 100 seconds long. In fact, a few 45's from that era timing out at 80 seconds or less managed to make Billboard's hot 100, including the 60 second release "Little Boxes" by The Womenfolk.
Today, two far less well known records than "Little Boxes", each of which runs under a minute. First up is Dick Boyell and his Orchestra, featuring singer Don Shelton. This appears to me to be a vanity label, and the short song involved is the A-side, with the catchy title "Oh Sweet Bubbles, You Make Me Feel So Good". As you'll hear, this lyric would have qualified as a shaggy dog story, were the story long enough to grow shaggy hair. The label reads one minute - played at exactly 45 RPM, the song lasts about two seconds less, and shows up at 0:59 here to allow for a bit of run-off at the end.
From another universe altogether comes a piece of insanity which has been in my collection since early childhood. No surprise - it's from the world of Children's Records, and more specifically from the intersection of Little Golden Records and Hanna-Barbera.
The record is credited to Don Elliott and the Cartoon Cowboys with Jimmy Carroll Orchestra, and is titled "Ooch, Ooch, Ouch!". It appears that this is the same Don Elliott who is primarily known as a jazz trumpet player, but who is also listed as a vocal talent in some searches, and was one of the hipsters behind the Chipmunks-meet-Bebop project "The Nutty Squirrels", in late 1959. Here, he is doing the voice of Quick Draw McGraw, who was voiced in the series of cartoons by Daws Butler - who most certainly would have been available to the Hanna-Barbera people, so what is Elliott doing as the voice here?:
This record always seemed weird to me. Several of my childhood records seemed at least moderately strange, but this was weirder than most of the others. For one thing, it's FIFTY THREE SECONDS LONG!!! It's the whole side of the single, and it times out at well under a minute! I can literally see the spaces between the groove as it moves towards the center of the record.
Just as odd is the performance of the song. First, there is the fact that (to me, at least), it sounds like we join the song in progress, almost in mid-breath of the singer, and certainly after some sort of music has already been played.
Then there is the deeply weird lead vocal, the overly peppy chorus, singing in such jolly spirits about being conked on the head (I particularly like the happy way they sing "He's a grouch", which is repeated three times), and the wacky sound effects. Not unheard of in kids records, but the feel of this one is sort of different, and the sudden ending just makes it weirder.
There actually is a postscript to the Don Elliot record. After I posted this song to my own blog, several years ago, my brother did some searching, and found out that, yes indeed, this is a crudely excerpted set of segments, edited into those 53 seconds, from a longer piece (nearly 3 1/2 minutes), one which appeared on a Hanna-Barbera album.
The longer has a weirdness of its own, but is at least fairly cohesive, and the segments pulled out for the 45 work within the confines of the full track. Plus you get to hear ridiculous lyrics such as "floor-de-floor-de-floor-de-floor", which would have made me crack up at age six, had they bothered to put the whole song on the 45.
The mystery remains, though - why edit down a song for a 45, to roughly 1/4th of its original length, removing all context from the song, making terrible edits and slapping it on a 45 that could easily have handled the original length without those edits? Who was it that listened to the edited version and said something along the lines of, "yup, that's perfect - that'll be GREAT for our next kids' 45"?
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