Friday 25 August 2023

Here Come the Mad Hatters

One of those albums that is forever turning up in ‘bad album cover art’ lists, for years I had assumed that the sole album by the Mad Hatters (or the Mad-Hatters, as they appear on the disc’s labels) was the product of some evangelist folk duo.


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


  1. Tuberculosis is a banger! Thanks!

  2. Only based on the King Records pressing account number (1080) that would be a pressing from 1963. Nothing much found otherwise on that record

  3. Is "I Had Tuberculosis" done to the tune of "Look For the Silver Lining"? That's...a unique choice.


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