How wrong I was.
I had presumed, you see, that the crucifix-like symbol emblazoned across the artist’s ensemble had some sort of religious connection. Now, thanks to the ever-wonderful Thrift Store Vinyl YouTube channel I know better. It is, in fact, the logo of the National Tuberculosis Association, for the Mad-Hatters (or the Mad Hatters) album – believe it or not - is a collection of ‘comedy’ songs about tuberculosis. 19 of them, some under a minute long, with titles such as I Had Tuberculosis, T B Girls, Soft is the Voice of a Fungus and the singalong hit Pneumonoultramicroscopic-silocovolcanokoniosis.
A product of the Greene County Tuberculosis Society of Springfield, Missouri, the album carries no date, but I would suggest it pre-dates Van Morrison’s T B Sheets by a couple of years. The cover mentions Admiral Asterbloom, a character from US comic strip Mr. Abernathy, which ran for three decades from 1957, and the song Pneumonoultramicroscopic-silocovolcanokoniosis references Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the soundtrack to the 1964 film Mary Poppins, so it would be a fairly safe bet to say that the album dates from no earlier than 1965 and, judging by the quality of the cover – one of those old-type US covers with a slick pasted onto a blank white cardboard sleeve – I would suggest that it was most likely issued before the end of the decade.
But who were the Mad Hatters themselves? Were they two nurses – or volunteers – working on a Missouri TB ward who thought they could raise a few dollars by selling an album of their silly songs? No doubt a few copies sold, as it turns up for sale now and again, but not many I would assume. The album originally came with an insert offering people the chance to purchase more copies at $3.25 apiece; I wonder how many actually took them up on that offer?
As usual, if you have any more information please feel free to share it. In the meantime, enjoy a couple of tracks from the brilliantly bonkers The Mad Hatters.
Download I Had Tuberculosis HERE
Download Nurses Marching Song HERE