Sunday, 15 December 2013

Season’s Gripings

Another trip down the yuletide memory lane for you this Sunday.

Although this blog was started in 2007, it wasn’t until 2009 that I began bringing you the annual Christmas Cavalcade, and the second disc I posted all those years ago was the brilliant An Old Fashioned Christmas (Daddy’s Home) by Linda Bennett. Released by Mercury in 1975 (or was it? I’ve only ever seen evidence of promo copies, never of finished stock editions) the song was produced and co-written by Paul Vance, whose credits include Brian Hyland's Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Perry Como's Catch A Falling Star, plus hits for the Cuff-Links and Johnny Mathis amongst a string of others. Born in Utah in 1942, Linda Bennett was no stranger to the recording studio either, with albums, TV appearances (including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Bonanza, Flipper and Doctor Kildare) and film credits to her name: as a child actress she featured in The Creature with the Atom Brain, the Seven Little Foys and in Queen Bee, starring Joan Crawford at her scenery-chewing best.

Now let’s revisit 2012, and the truly horrible Christmas on the Moon, by Troy Hess. Probably better known by bad music aficionados for his classic Please Don’t Go Topless Mother, Troy was just four years old when he recorded this virtually unintelligible piece of nonsense, written for him by his father Bennie. Fellow music blogger Steve Carey once described his performance as ‘Huckleberry Hound talking to you on a broken telephone, with a bad connection, in a big echo-y bathroom, standing ten feet away from the phone. Also he's wearing a mask and eating a banana.’ Quite. Shockingly, this was not Troy’s first 45: the Ballad of Troy Hess appeared, and was credited as having been written by Troy himself, when he was just three years old! Troy is still active today, performing with his band the Texas Heartbreakers.

Again from 2012 comes Mae West and Santa Come Up And See Me. Ms West’s contribution to bad music is well documented, with a clutch of awful albums featuring dreadful cover versions of rock and roll standards such as Twist and Shout and her own feeble attempts at composition, never better exemplified than in the horror that is Mr Criswell Predicts, her ‘tribute’ to TV psychic, Ed Wood alumnus and all round crackpot Jeron Criswell King. Santa Come Up And See Me comes from her 1967 album Wild Christmas, recorded when the old gal was nearing 75.

Finally today we have Christmas is For the Family by the Happy Crickets from their album Christmas With the Happy Crickets. Undated, but probably originally released around 1960, I was reminded of this when I was putting together Friday’s post about the Caroleers (both ‘acts’ recorded for the Synthetic Plastics Company of Newark, New Jersey: my suspicion is that the Happy Crickets are simply some of the male members of the Caroleers). Our old friend Ross Hamilton describes this as ‘probably the worst attempt at cashing in on the singing animal phenomenon. The singing is horrible, even when sped up, and the arrangements sound like they were slapped together by a committee of drunks’. I absolutely agree!

See you on Friday, but for now, enjoy!


  1. Christmas On The Moon, is my Christmas song of the year! Thanks

  2. 12/20/13 Wrote:
    Ross Bagdasadrian was still living when this Happy Crickets album came out. Synthetic plastics, like their competitors Pickwick Records and Crown/Modern Records were always cashing in on some fad when it came to issuing tons of cheap knock-off albums for 99 cents at some drug store or Woolworth's chain store. It didn't matter if it was the Twist craze or The British Invasion, issuing phony Chipmunks related material was no different. Bagdasadrian even tried to sue the budget labels for copying his beloved Alvin, Simon,& Theodore, even though he too can be considered of copying Disney's Chip & Dale, who were created about half a decade before Alvin, Simon,& Theodore. Bagdasadrian made a fortune out of The Chipmunks, even setting up a wine distribution on his off hours when not making Chipmunk records before his sudden death in 1972. His son, Ross Jr. & his daughter in law, Janice Karmen (responsible for creating The Chipettes, Brittany, Ellenor, & Jeanette) continue to this day filling up the world with Chipmunk junk, as recently with the three Chipmunk CGI-animated movies. As for the aging Ms. West, my all-time favorite silly Christmas tune from her was the sexy(?!) come on, "Put The Loot In The Boot, Santa" on Dragonett Records from 1967. Any chances of this number being posted on your blog soon?

  3. Just a little FYI, Mr. Bullock, I was actually barely 3 years old when "Christmas on The Moon" was recorded, and although, not perfect, I would contend that ANY and ALL of the modern hip-hop trash that degrades women repeatedly, and talks about killing people would surpass my little old recording made some 46 years ago by a long shot! As a matter of fact, probably the majority of the whiney pop-crap that people like Cyrus & Bieber have released would also be heads & tails ( pardon the pun) above me on "your" list. And although many variables have to be taken into account when judging music; please take this in to account: as far as the song goes, it was not too bad, or it would not have even been considered to be "covered' by another band, " The Go", which it was. The thing I find amusing with you critics, is although I was never signed to a major record label, and never had a top 10 hit; you guys are still talking about my childhood recordings 30-40 years later!! That's pretty good as far as I'm concerned! George Jones once told me that "most critics are people who wanted to be an artist, but didn't have the talent, so they sit back and make fun of those who do!" Not sure if this applies to you, but try listening to some of my recent music that we recorded during practice on Youtube, and base your opinion of me on that, not some little kid recordings!
    most sincerely,
    Troy Hess

    1. Thanks so much for getting in touch Troy.

      I'm sorry if you were offended by my including Christmas on the Moon on the blog, especially as it is a record that I genuinely love: it took me a long time to track down a copy and it is one of my prized possessions. I have heard - and enjoyed - much of your other work and own several other of your early tracks.

      It's never my intention to upset or hurt people: the blog is supposed to be a fun look at some obscure records which might otherwise be forgotten. Sure I used the word 'horrible' and 'virtually unintelligible', but I think even you would accept that many of the lyrics of Christmas on the Moon are hard to decipher. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy it: like bad films, you can still enjoy them even though they are not - in most people's eyes - of a standard that they would find acceptable.

      Sincere best wishes,



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