It's rainy and cold outside, so what better time than now to entertain you with some oddball stuff! This round, I'm focusing on that 'gray area' again, but with the not-so-mainstream releases. Qualifying this stuff as "releases" is even a bit of a stretch, because these recordings came packed in with another product. These were made during a time when the world was a great place to live in, and you actually got excited about the bonuses that came with the piece of junk that you purchased.
I've covered a couple of these items before such as the Bunny Boppers 45 RPM record which (from what I heard from multiple sources) came with a chocolate Easter bunny, and the 45 RPM record which came with your Ken doll. The Bunny Boppers song was fun, but the Ken record leaves little hope for decent future Barbie-related music. There may be a bit of nostalgia for you here, so enjoy it while it lasts because I'll be back to posting annoying crap after this entry...
Bobby Sherman Cereal Box Records
What's odd is that I have two of these, and I'm pretty sure I bought them at separate locations. If you asked me to name one of Bobby Sherman's hit songs, I'd probably answer something like "Ummm.... Bobby Shit what???" The only thing Bobby Sherman was good at was making young girls squeal with delight with his semi-unbuttoned shirt. Other than that, I have no idea what his appeal was. However, these records contributed to many women getting fat, because this record came packed-in with boxes of Sugar Crisp. Thanks alot, Bobby!
Calling these things "records" is an overstatement. It's just laminated cardboard with mildly audiable record grooves etched into it. If you ever wanted to know what cardboard sounds like on your turntable, you need not look any further than Classical Gas Emissions. The same goes for hard drive platters, transparency sheets, blister pack plastic, and CDs.
These Bobby Sherman songs were released commercially, although these may be edited down recordings. But free music is free, so you have no right to bitch! I also have no desire to listen to any of his official releases to verify my assumptions that these are edited. His music falls under the category of "70s wimpy mushy baby poo music".
Listen to I Think I'm Gonna Be Alright
Listen to Waiting At The Bus Stop
Jem "Jetta" cassette
Jem was an animated show in the mid-to-late 1980s about fictional girl bands. The show's audience was intended to be young girls, however, the show occasionally mis-fired and sent their shots at questionably straight men who may or may not have homosexual tenancies. I had one such friend who fanatically recorded Jem songs from the television show. Later in life, all my other friends thought he was a fag.
This cassette came with the Jetta doll. Jetta was one of the characters in the show. Most of the dolls came with a cassette featuring songs that they sang. In other words, if you bought enough Jem dolls and collected enough cassettes, you'd be able to have a Woodstock doll party! Too bad Glenn Danzig wasn't invited to help make The Misfits cool again.
Songs from the Jem series consisted of generally awful 80s tripe, and the songs usually clocked in around one minute. The B-side of the cassettes had instrumental versions of the A-side, so you can dance around your bedroom in your panties, sing into your hairbrush, and be a Jem girl yourself!
Listen to the songs:
Who Is She Anyway?
Jem Theme (instrumental)
Who Is She Anyway? (instrumental)
Designing Women (instrumental)
Alf "Melmac Rock" Burger King Record
And now, we (finally) have something for the boys!
Alf was an alien (read: puppet) who came from the planet Melmac (read: some Chinese slave labour company who makes puppets), crashed his spaceship into the Tanner's family garage (read: idea for a great sitcom) and craves to eat cats (read: influenced by the diet of the Chinese slaves who made the puppet)
This record came with an "Alf Activity Pack" that I purchased from Burger King in the late 1980s. I believe they sold for four or five bucks. They came with stickers, puzzles, and the item that was the ultimate prize: the record. We are again presented with a laminated piece of cardboard. At least the Jem cassettes had the potential of giving better quality. In the United States, the records came with puppets as opposed to activity packs.
There were four records in the series: Take Me Alf To The Ballgame, Cookin' With Alf, Melmac Rock, and Melmac Girls. Although I had the first three, two of them have disappeared in the last 25 years. The best one of the bunch was "Cookin With Alf" which I unfortunately no longer have. If you listen to these, you'll notice that Alf kind of just talks through the songs as opposed to actually singing them. That's because Paul Fusco (who is the voice of Alf) can't fucking sing, and never intended to be a rock and roll star. However, money from merchandising can easily change anybody's mind.
The song is pretty terrible...
Listen to Melmac Rock
Alf was eventually turned into a Saturday morning cartoon. Unlike the Jem theme song, the animated Alf theme song has aged gracefully and in my opinion should be nominated for an award as one of the greatest theme songs recorded in the 1980s. To prove my point, I dug through my personal cassette collection and found a copy of the theme song I recorded directly from television in 1990. The reason I did this is because the DVD releases only include the pilot's error-ridden version which sucks ass.
Listen to the animated Alf theme song
There's a lot of other things that could have qualified for this entry, but I decided to focus mainly on the stuff that was aimed toward kids, which also explains why a lot of this stuff is hard to find. Think about it, when you're a kid, are you concerned about keeping things in good shape so you can enjoy a nice round of nostalgia in your 30s? HELL NO. Records turn into frisbees, cassettes get recorded over with gangsta rap, and toys get stepped on and thrown into the trash by your parents.
We'll be back with more blog fodder after these messages!