When I Dance, It Starts to Itch

A Vinyl Testament

This one is going to be different. If Vinyl Testaments is about obscure and underappreciated records, this is probably the last word on the subject. Several years ago (like, between 30 and 35) I encountered an album at my library. The cover didn’t look like much and the only name I recognized from the back—well, that name would probably have had me invest the time, but let’s say it wouldn’t have been a marquee attraction for most people.

THE TRASHMEN - SURFIN`BIRD

That name, the biggest act on this compilation, was the Trashmen, known for their primal mash-up (before that word had been invented) of Papa-Ooh-Mow-Mow and The Bird, two songs by a fantastic vocal group called the Rivingtons. Surfin’ Bird was a wacky novelty hit cut in the prime of surf music. It’s gotten new life as Peter Griffin’s annoying tune of choice on Family Guy. But I’m wandering from the point. This album, The Big Itch, is a compilation (or “comp”) of sides that could easily be called “lost.” Side one consists of covers, variations, and homages to Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow, thus it is the Bird side. Side two is arguably more obscure with tracks that seem to have come from mostly one-off acts—true frat music, cut by out of tune and drunk frat guys; singles that might have charted locally, if the group was lucky; and just some oddball stuff, like the all-drumkit cover of Rock Around the Clock. Is it all great? Not…exactly. That’s why side two is the Turd side.  I don’t think any of it hits car-crash level, where you can’t stop listening because you might miss something, but even the “worst”—least professional, muddy, whatever—has a feel that makes you hang in, especially if you’ve ever been close to musicians and really wanted them to make it.

Let’s look at the track listing:

Bird Side

A1 –Bobby Lee Trammel, Toolie Froolie

A2 –The Trashmen, Bird ’65

A3 –The Chord-R-Notes, Livin’ The Life

A4 –Lindy Blaskey And The Lavells, Papa Ooh Mow Mow

A5 –The Dinks, Nina Koka Nina

A6 –The Elite, One Potato

A7 –The Elite, Two Potato

A8 –The Del Tinos, Pa Pa Ooh Mau Mau

A9 –Gregory Dee And The Avanties, Olds-Mo-William

A10 –The Torques, Surfin’ Bird

Turd Side

B1 –Freddy And The Ravens, The Big Itch

B2 –The Deacons, Baldie Beat

B3 –Arch Hall, Jr., Konga Joe

B4 –The Four Dimensions, Sand Surfin’

B5 –The Society, Nicotine Fit

B6 –Larry And The Loafers, Panama City Blues ’61

B7 –Glenn Mooney And The Ferraris, The Big Surf

B8 –Andy And The Classics, Wilma

B9 –Trez Trezo, Rock Around The Clock

B10 –King Uszniewicz And The Uszniewicztones, Surfin’ School

 nina

Bobby Lee Trammel and the Dinks, besides being responsible for some of the strongest material here, have something in common; I’ll tell you in a second. Trammel sounds a lot like Billy Lee Riley’s early cuts; very country and singing rock and roll like his life is on the line. The Dinks—well, their song here is in my top five favorites. Of this album? No—of anything. And there is so much more gold in these 20 sides. “Sand Surfin’” I actually found again, on another comp of southeastern U.S. surf music. Yes. Surf music from the desert.

But why am I telling you all this? Well, at the time all I could do to hold on to these tunes was record the album to cassette (sorry, artists—I’d buy it new if I could. It seems to have been out of print forever.) Eventually, the tape started to do what tapes do and stretch, break down, distort…so I recorded the vinyl rip from cassette to CD. Then…the CD lived in my car and the aluminum started peeling off. So, now what? The album disappeared from my library years ago (removed from circulation? Stolen by a fellow fan?), so one fine day last year I did what I’d done many times before and searched the interwebs for Big Itch. I need not tell you some interesting things pop up with that, but I think that’s true for anything. At least with Big Itch the returns are likely to include some pics of Marilyn from The Seven Year Itch.

This time, though, I learned that not only did the Big Itch appear, it appeared as…volume 1. Wait, volume 1? There are more? What could they possibly be?

big itch 1

Well, they could be—and are—SEVEN more albums, each with something of a theme, and each as eccentric as the last, including some horrible local talent show recordings, a learn-to-play-guitar series, spoken word, dance crazes, lampooned racism…well, here:

V 2 Joe E. Ross Memorial album

A1 –Joe E. Ross, Ooh Ooh

A2 –Rock-Fellers, Orange Peel

A3 –Bob Lee, Wanted For Questioning

A4 –Johnny Litrell, A Hard Day’s Night

A5 –Jimmy Knight, Crankshaft Sid

A6 –Vladimir And The Grave Diggers, Vladimir Twist

A7 –Mike Fern, The Head Hunters

A8 –Metropolitans, Screaming Pt. 1

A9 –Tommy Hancock, Tacos For Two

B1 –Tremolons, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On

B2 –Brother Zee And The Decades With The Mike Metko Combo, Sha Boom Bang

B3 –Larry And The Loafers, Panama City Blues ’62

B4 –George Ross And The Red Tops, Weirdsville

B5 –Slough Boys, Fried Chicken Baby

B6 –Tony And The Runaways, Komm’Mal Her!

B7 –Bill James And The Hex-O-Tones, Voodoo Queen And The Medicin Man

B8 –Archie Pier And The Rhythm Aires, Tamales And Rock And Roll

B9 –Ron Robbins, Heartbreak Hotel

V 3
Dancin’ Side

A1 –Rock Roll, Bedrock Twitch

A2 –Glenn And Christy, Wombat Twist

A3 –Gary Shelton, The Trance

A4 – The Warlocks, The Temper Tantrum

A5 –Tommy Bee & The Juareztones, Mexican Stretch

A6 –Joe And The Furies, Weasel

A7 – The Three D’s, Graveyard Cha Cha

A8 –Wayne Sherwood, Moon Step Twist

baconfat

A9 – The Triads, Bacon Fat

A10 –Jerry Coulston, Cave Man Hop

Romancin’ Side

B1 –McHale’s Navy Cast, Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow

B2 –Rex Johnson, Discombobulated

B3 –Bill And Mickey, The Creep

B4 –Mad Mike & The Maniacs, Quarter To Four

B5 –The Fantastic Emanons, Duh

B6 –The Dinks, Kocka-Mow-Mow

B7 –Terry Teene, Curse Of The Hearse

B8 –Vancie Flowers, Wetback

B9 –The Crew, The Jaguar Hunt

B10 –T. Valentine, Hello Lucille Are You A Lesbian

V 4
Topless Side

A1 –The Rockets Combo, Topless A Go Go

A2 –Ray Sanders And Friend, Karate

A3 –Mike Lawing, Chimpanzee Ride

A4 –The Starfires, Tell Me Baby

A5 –The Del Cades, World’s Fair U.S.A.

A6 –The Ape Quartet, Tarzan

A7 –The Crewnecks, Rockin’ Zombie

A8 –Randy Proffitt & The Beachcombers, Check That Baby Out One Time

A9 –The Cavemen, Bowling Alley Oop

Bottomless Side

B1 –Screamin’ Lord Jim & The Piccadilly Squares, What’s A Wooly Bully

B2 –Pleasant Valley Tune Jammers, The Ugly

B3 –The Spinners, Surfin’ Monkey

B4 –Danny Roland, Shockwave

B5 –Tom Reeves, Primitive Love

B6 –Playboys, Mope De Mope

B7 –The Surfsiders, When I Grow Up

B8 –Marty Roberts & His Nightriders, Baby

B9 –Rolls Royce & The Wheels, Topless

V 5

A1 –Tom Kerry & The Rembrandts, The Babylon Twist Party

scream mother

A2 –Sur Royal Da Count & The Parliaments, Scream Mother Scream

A3 –Robin & The Batmen, Batskinner

A4 –The Twilights, Bohemian

A5 –The Hustlers, Linda

A6 –T. Valentine, Do The Do

A7 –The Ramrocks, Pasha

A8 –Bill Royal, Caffeine – Nicotine – Gasoline

A9 –Howlin’ Banana, Learn That Parrot To Talk Part One

B1 –Howlin’ Banana, Learn That Parrot To Talk Part Two

B2 –Unknown Demo, Jr., Blue Suede Shoes (Previously Unissued)

B3 –The Concepts, Jungle

B4 –Al Herda, Fuzzy Wuzzy

B5 –Baron Daemon & The Vampires, The Transylvania Twist

B6 –The Spacemen, Retro

B7 –Sur Royal Da Count & The Parliaments, Sgt. Ralph Yore, USMC

B8 –The Zodiacs, Another Little Darlin’

B9 –Instant Ralston, Rock And Mole

V 6

A1 –The Speckulations, Hulu Hoop

A2 –D.D.T. & The Repellents, The Fly Swatter

wicked chicken

A3 –Duck Flowers, Wicked Chicken

A4 –Brendan Hanlon & The Batmen, Christmas Party

A5 –Los Saicos, Demolicion

A6 –Gene Jenkins, Short Stuff

A7 –Atilla & The Huns, Mojo Cools

A8 –Connie Lingus, F**k Me Forever

A9 –Yvon Bonneville, Monsieur Jean

B1 –Charlie White Eagle, Get Off My Cloud

B2 –The Deltrons, Tonya

B3 –The Deltrons, I Found My Baby In Bad Axe

B4 –The Shades, Walkin’ Wanda

B5 –Bill Spiller, Hot Pants Girls

B6 –Ourselves, Money

B7 –Duck Flowers, Okey Doke

B8 –The Big Inners, Ethmoiditus Cum Polyposis

B9 –Rick Kay & His Shades Of Today, Red Man. White Man

V  7

A1 –The Argons, Do The Dog

A2 –Tom Brown, Bird Dance Beat

A3 –Tito Mambo, Jungle Farm

A4 –Chuck Gallego, Chili Bones

A5 –H.T. Three, I Fell In Love (With That Wart On Your Face)

A6 –Joe Bonty, Sad Shape

A7 –Steve & The Holidays, Unemployment

A8 –Ken Kerr & The Idols, Haunted House

A9 –Unknown Soulful Dynamo, Jack Metnick The Man From Mars

B1 –Barry Raye, Twilight Zone

B2 –Larry & The Gang, Theme Song

B3 –Century Five, La Moomba Kasa Boo Boo Cha Cha Cha

B4 –Count Down And The Moonsters, Hindu On A Honda

B5 –Sal Masi’s Untouchables, Pat’s Steaks

B6 –Fabulous Checkmates, Safari (Jungle Trip)

B7 –Guy Williams, Autographs And Pictures

B8 –Naturals, The Hook 1965

B9 –Rick Kay & His Shades Of Today, You Stink… Gah!

V 8

A1 –Unknown Mental Case, Radio Flip Flop

A2 –Bobby Lee Trammell, Mayonnaise

A3 –Unknown Masterminds, King Of The Radical Right

A4 –The Velvetones, Hairy Lumpty Bump

A5 –Satan And Satan’s Roses, I’m A Devil

A6 –The Sotos Brothers, Little Lila

A7 –Little “Guitar” Pickett And His Fabulous Rockin’ Fenders, The Buzzard

A8 –Jack Donovan And The Knight Caps, Time Machine

A9 –Rudy Weston, The Lean Hornet

B1 –Zen Fuller, Doomsday

B2 –Little Sammy Jones And The Eldorados, Doing The Roach

B3 –Johnny Alderson, Zoola Zooky

B4 –Elliott Shavers, SoulVillage

B5 –Marty’s Misfits, A Misfit

B6 –The Sparks, Double Chinese

B7 –The Couplings, Dill Tickle

B8 –Tommy O’Tani, Sunset Rock

B9 –The Fowls, The Yanks Are The Champs

Imagine satellite radio programmed by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. There are wonders on these discs, like when you were seven and didn’t know what you were getting for Christmas. I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you ever see one of these, pick it up. (I never have, but you never know.) I’m guessing if any are out there they are probably in the fifty-cent box at Salvation Army. If only there were a place to find these slabs of gold…

 

 

 

 

 

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