Released on Brunswick in 1959 – therefore predating Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s ubiquitous Monster Mash by three years – The Mummy by Bob McFadden and Dor was an early attempt to cash in on American obsession with horror movies, particularly the screen classics of the 1930s which padded out the late night line up of most TV channels. A silly little comedy song, The Mummy scraped into the Top 40 in September that year, but proved so popular that it spawned several cover versions and a note-for-note copy by Florida-based outfit Bob and Bobbi. It’s popularity also led to the song becoming attached to the Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee Hammer remake of the 1932 Boris Karloff classic The Mummy, with starlet Norma Marla touring the States with a sarcophagus, giving away copies to radio DJs, even though the track did not (and does not) appear on the film’s soundtrack.
The single’s popularity also led to Brunswick releasing a full-length album, Songs Our Mummy Taught Us, which appeared in the shops in February 1960.
Mcfadden, who would later provide the voice for cartoon characters Milton the Monster, Cool McCool and Snarf from Thundercats, was a well-known voice-over artist, famous for appearing on TV commercials for Wisk detergent and Frankenberry cereal. Dor would find fame under his real name; Rod McKuen (Dor is Rod backwards. Oh, how clever!) went on to earn a brace of Oscar nominations and a Pulitzer nomination for his compositions. McKuen's adaptations of Jacques Brel’s songs were instrumental in making the Belgian songwriter popular in the English-speaking world, whilst his own books of poetry sold millions of copies.
But there’s no way that Songs Our Mummy Taught Us would have ever earned the nascent poet and songwriter a major award. It’s just terrible. The haste in which this collection was thrown together is apparent throughout. The Mummy is ‘adapted’ (or, if you prefer, dicked around with) liberally; then-current dance crazes are sent up (poorly) and the rest of the album is made up of bad parodies – including two of the tracks I present for you today: The Children Cross the Bridge, a piss-poor piss-take of the Ingrid Bergman film Inn of the Sixth Happiness and the peculiar I Dig You Baby, which to me sounds like it was written by the bastard child of Jimmy Cross and Alan Titchmarsh.
Apparently McKuen later claimed that the uncredited backing musicians on the album were none other than Bill Haley and His Comets. Although the group were also signed to Brunswick this has never been confirmed. In 1961 McFadden and McKuen would regroup to record the single Dracula Cha Cha backed with Transylvania Polka – which, unsurprisingly, sank without a trace…an example of lightening resolutely refusing to strike twice.