July 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Collection: The Very Worst of Spike Jones (1911-1965)
NIMBUS NI 2003 [62:29]
 Amazon UK  Amazon USA

Love in Bloom. William Tell Overture. The Charleston. Cocktails for Two. That Old Black Magic. The Blue Danube. Liebestraum. Drip Drip Drip (Sloppy Lagoon). My Old Flame. McNamara's Band. The Glow Worm. Chloe. Holiday for Strings. You always hurt the one you love. Dance of the Hours. Luara. Hawaiian War Chant. Knock Knock (Who's There). All I want for Christmas. Happy New Year.

When I was a young boy, in the late 1940s, with two teenage female cousins perpetually swooning over Dick Haymes and Bing Crosby, I used to relish spiting them by playing Spike Jones's anarchic Cocktails for Two and You Always Hurt the One You Love at full blast.

Spike with his gang of lyrical and light classics terrorists were let loose around that time, and were often heard as an antidote to all the saccharine on BBC record requests programmes like Forces Favourites. This, 'The Very Worst of Spike Jones' is a collection of 20 of his marvellous missiles recorded between 1945 and 1949.

Spike used a battery of seemingly innocuous percussion devices such as temple blocks, cow bells, washboards, bell trees, swanee whistles, bird calls, gongs, cymbals and even hard stuff like anvils, hammers, pistols, car horns, police sirens phone bells, cash registers and such satanic electronic devices as "the polarised vibrating gong" to explode, even implode innocent tunes. On this album he damns The Blue Danube, shreds Liebestraum and devastates the William Tell Overture --before turning it into a horse race.

Innocent lyrics are tortured. Immediately, in Love in Bloom the question "Can it be the trees?" provokes a cry of "Timber!"; while the line "Is it all a dream?" is answered by loud snoring. Poor Chloe's name is tortured ("Hi Chloe! - what d'ya knowee?") and the words, "...nightshade's falling..." heralds unimaginable cacophony. Cocktails for Two's early lyric "in some secluded rendezvous" is answered by a gross dissonance of car horns, whistles and general thuds; and, later, you are not spared the raucous chorus of drunken hiccups. And you really don't want to know what they do to the melody and words of That Old Black Magic and You Always Hurt the One You Love.

It seems, at last, that one song will have some due respect. David Raksin's Laura (yes, that of the film) is played by Spike Jones's other orchestra - but no! - peace just cannot last and its only a matter of time before the boys wreak their usual havoc - in spades. Peter Lore, or the aptly named impressionist Peter Gory, adds a ghoulish touch to My Old Flame. He contributes such endearing lyrics as - "I can't even think of her name - I'll have to look through my collection of human heads...my new loves aren't the same; many of them won't even let me strangle them!"

Coming close to legitimacy, though, is Spike's affectionate recalling of The Charleston but even here horselaughs and gunshots invade.

Spike appeared in a number of films including Thank Your Lucky Stars and Variety Girls and had his own TV show. If you have a taste for irreverence, every one of these cues will have you cheering. Come back Spike, your slingshots are sorely needed today.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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