Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Chipmunks

Greatest HitsThe Chipmunks deserve a place in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, surely. I’m not even sure why. Maybe it would just be an antidote to those who take it so darn seriously.

Novelty acts tended to have 1 hit. Think of Napolean XIV or The Hollywood Argyles who did what may be the quintessential novelty song, Alley Oop. The exception was The Archies, and they, like The Chipmunks before them, had a cartoon to back them up.
The Chipmunks had character, they were real, even if they weren’t real. And in their better records, that character came out, and it gave their records a charm that transcends their ostensible frivolousness.

The collection is simply called Greatest Hits; it has 5 of their 7 hits – missing is Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Alvin For President, and then it has 4 tracks from a collection of Beatle covers they did, suggesting that whoever put this together got lazy.





The Chipmunks:

The Chipmunk Song – “Me,” sings Alvin, “I want a hula hoop.” And that, for better or worse, is what Christmas is about for so many – toys. That includes adults, of course. The Little Drummer Boy was contemporary with this, so you had both sides. From the 1958 Christmas season, number 1, and it recharted during the next 4 years.
Alvin’s Harmonica – “Aw nuts!” says Alvin off the top, in a transcendent moment. He’s pretty good actually, a budding Stevie Wonder. And it’s amazing how the name at the end of the first line just happens to be “Veronica.” From the winter of 1959.
Ragtime Cowboy Joe – Childen and cowboys, an inevitable combination. But chipmunks and horses... From the summer of 1959. “Hi Ho Alvinnnnn…..
Alvin’s Orchestra – It’s all about music, isn’t it? That whole Chipmunk career thing. And when Alvin sabotages the works he does so by shooting his gun or turning a ballad into a cha cha. But here the battle morphs from music into money. Dave can’t very well complain about an orchestra otherwise, now can he? From the winter of 1960.
The Alvin Twist – Just to prove that everyone had to jump on the bandwagon. From the winter of 1962.
Whistle While You Work – Is this really from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. They do it straight – as straight as someone’s voice recorded in three part harmony and sped to sound like helium induced rodents can be.
All My Loving – Here is where The Beatle tunes start. All My Loving was from their second album, it was, if I’m not very much mistaken, the first song they played (The Beatles, not The Chipmunks) on their first appearance on Ed Sullivan. And there are not many covers of it.
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles title track from their first movie and third album, and a number 1 single in 1964.
Can’t Buy Me Love – Ditto, except for being the title track.
I Want To Hold Your Hand – The Beatles’ breakthrough hit in the US. It was a hit, also, for Arthur Fiedler And The Boston Pops.

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