I Don’t Remember This on Happy Days…

Anyone who spends much time in the weirder areas of popular music and comedy will be aware of the phenomenon of the “party record”. Back in the 40s and 50s, artists like Ruth Wallis and Rusty Warren cut albums filled with risque lyrics and double entendres for the amusement of the cocktail party crowd after the kids were sent upstairs. In many ways, the trend died out thanks to comedians like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor, who broke many of the barriers between so-called adult and popular entertainment. An extreme form of this kind of stuff can be found in the work of Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts from the 60s. In his early, pre-Mothers days, Frank Zappa was arrested for producing a party record, and did a ten-day jolt in county for “conspiracy to commit pornography.”

These albums and singles were typically sold under the counter, or at flea markets or personal appearances, because “respectable” stores didn’t want to be known as smut merchants. Of course, there was the mail-order option:

adult_records

And then there are those songs that, while not exactly in the category of party records, were nonetheless a bit… steamy for the 1950s mainstream, to the point that one wonders how they got released. And as an example of what I mean, here’s 1958’s “Little Girl”, by John and Jackie. I’m guessing it didn’t get much play from Richie and the gang at Arnold’s. Even today, it’s clean, but, well… ah, just listen.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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