Ages and ages ago, when I wrote for the music collector’s magazine Goldmine, I did a well-received profile of novelty “break-in” artist Dickie Goodman. Goodman pioneered the idea of taking audio samples from popular songs and using them as the “out of context” answers for wacky interview questions. If you’ve ever heard Goodman’s “Mr. Jaws” from 1975, you have an idea of what he’s achieved.
Goodman recorded and created dozens of these snippet records, also known as “break-in” records. Realistically, he was one of the first artists to incorporate these “samples” into new work.
But, as you know, while one would argue that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the minute Goodman created the concept, there were a TON of copycats. And any time there was a Presidential election, a lunar moon launch, a blockbuster movie on the horizon – you could bet your boots that someone, if not Goodman himself, would create their own interpretation of a novelty “break-in” record. Some were successes, others were abject failures.
Here’s a selection of those copycats. Some of these are rare, and others are of subjects that, for lack of a better understanding, make no reasonable sense.
Let’s start with the political scene.
You could have Dickie Goodman satirize the Watergate scandal as “Watergrate.”
Meanwhile, some other break-in artist would find a bunch of 45’s, and record his own little break-in record. Like this one.
So rather than focus on Goodman’s records, let’s see what some of the other artists and companies came up with, shall we?
When the Beatles arrived for their first trip to America, Goodman’s original “break-in” partner, Bill Buchanan, collaborated on a “British Invasion” record.
Of course, that didn’t stop two other people from doing the same thing.
And there were plenty of “debate” records out there, with people putting wild campaign slogans into other people’s mouths. It happened in 1960, with this record …
And it happened in 1972 with this disc…
And whenever this disc came out…
Now let’s say that a sports team suddenly heads towards their sport’s championship. When the Pittsburgh Steelers reached the postseason for the first time in 40 years (right after the Immaculate Reception), someone put together this break-in record. The name of the interviewer is a sly reference to Steelers legend Myron Cope, but it’s a poor imitation – not one “Yoi!” in the entire audio track. Feh.
And at one point, did you know that baseball players took a summer off in an organized strike? Yep, this happened in 1981 – and someone made a break-in record about it.
Although these break-in records were done on the cheap, with fly-by-night or vanity pressings, there were some major record companies that got involved in this break-in phenomenon. After Jerry Lee Lewis returned to America after a disastrous England tour (you know, the one where the press found out he married his cousin), Lewis’ label, Sun Records, stitched up a break-in record to satirize the trip. Nothing like having your own record company clown you in the middle of the worst press coverage you could imagine, and using your own song lyrics as ammunition.
Meanwhile, over at Buddah Records, a New York City disc jockey, under the name of Vik Venus, took on the Apollo lunar launch – and to avoid dealing with copyright and catalog issues, used snippets from Buddah Record artists. So the lunar launch was powered by … bubblegum music?
“Moonflight” actually cracked the Top 10, so naturally there had to be a follow-up. But instead of using samples again, the samples were replaced by what appears to be a very demented Alvin the Chipmunk as the interview subject.
Even Motown Records got involved in the break-in phenomena – someone in Detroit had a wealth of Motown 45’s to work with, and yeah I’d rather have a rocket ship powered by the Funk Brothers’ backing orchestra. Wouldn’t you?
Just for fun, let’s look at a few other break-in discs. Someone put together a break-in record about who they thought would be the first black President. Unfortunately, they wrote it as if the first black President was some 1970’s New York City hustler. No word on whether this was bankrolled by Donald Trump or not.
Somehow this test pressing of an Evel Knievel break-in 45 surfaced – this would have had to have been made prior to Knievel’s failed “jump” over the Snake River Canyon.
And finally, here’s an odd break-in record, this one from Albert Brooks – in which the break-in snippets are actually created SPECIFICALLY for this project, and have no connection to any other 45’s, current or past.
It’s an oddball trip through a niche neighborhood in record collecting, but I hope you enjoyed it today on K-Chuck Radio!