The 1960’s TV sketch show “Laugh-In” spawned several different national catchphrases, and it was not unusual to drop a “Sock it to me” or “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls” or “Fickle Finger of Fate,” etc.
One of those catchphrases was the innocuous but totally infectious phrase, “Here comes the judge.” This was often populated by Sammy Davis, Jr., who would wear a barrister’s wig and judge’s gown.
This catchphrase was so infectious, in fact, that several record companies and their artists suddenly spawned various novelty songs based on that simple phrase.
Like this one from Motown singer Shorty Long, it became his only hit.
But here’s the thing. I was looking for this song for yesterday’s blog post, and upon finding it, I discovered that there were more than one version of “Here Comes the Judge,” performed by different artists, heck, the only thing similar in each song was the title.
Here’s an MGM studio group called the Magistrates, featuring lead vocalist Jean Hillary. I wonder if “the judge” in this song realizes that there’s a riff of the Them / Van Morrison song “Here Comes the Night” at 1:13 of this track.
The studio group The Buena Vistas recorded this “Here Comes the Judge” as a mostly instrumental track, but there are a few Laugh-In catchphrases mixed in, some “Very Interestings” a la Arte Johnson, for example.
Check this one out. 1960’s-era rap by comedian Pigmeat Markham, with a drum beat that sounds like it could be poached to a thousand different current hip-hop songs.
Hey, if your surfboard got impounded, or you were showing off too much muscle on Muscle Beach, perhaps you need to enter Surf Court and let the Ventures preside.
I’m not sure where to go with this “Hack and Sack” recording, it sounds more like this guy is trying to do his best imitation of a Dolemite “Signifying Monkey” routine and failing miserably.
So let’s move past the Laugh-In connection, and check out some other tracks that borrow heavily from the image of a barrister as the head of a pop song. Let us now rock to the beat of the Honorable Peter Tosh.
And if you flipped over some copies of the 1980’s hit “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors, you got this punk/new wave version of “Here Comes the Judge.”
I don’t know much about the group The Make-Up, but apparently in 1996 they did their own “Here Comes the Judge” song as well.
And of course, if you go far enough down this rabbit hole, you will eventually end up at the center of all music – Wu-Tang Clan, featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
That being said, make sure you have good representation when you go to court. You don’t want to end up in a situation like the one that happened to Cheech and Chong.
And boy oh boy, don’t even get caught splicing other songs into your own work, because you might end up on trial.
Trust me, George Harrison can attest to this.
Are we all good? Awesome, this court is adjourned! (bangs gavel)