Sunday, 29 January 2012

King Monster or He Never Could Forget

Heard this song on a recent edition of Clarke Davis' The Big Show on Rock-It Radio and couldn't resist sharing it. I didn't know who the writers were but am not surprised to learn it was a Goffin and King composition. It's witty and initially I couldn't quite tell whether it was a sendup - though I suppose the real answer is that it is and it isn't.

The essential joke is that just as parents react in horror to rock'n'roll in general, by 1963 (Clarke's current shows mine the lesser known songs from that year) the form had been  around long enough for older teens to feel nostalgiac about the dances which they learnt, back in what for them were the good old days, being supplanted by the likes of the twist:

I remember
You looked like a queen
You were only sixteen and so sweet then

I remember
How your eyes caught my glance
As we started to dance to the beat then

It was heaven
We were angel with wings on
Or devils with springs on our feet then

I'll never forget
The night that we met
And I did the ma - a - ashed
Potatoes with you

You were dancin'
With some other soul
And I went and I stole you from him then

I remember
How you held me so tight
When they dimmed every light in the gym then

It was magic
Though your kiss made reel
So it still made me feel so in trim then

I'll never forget
The night that we met
And I did the ma - a - ashed
Potatoes with you

As the saxophone played
And you told me you cared
And together we sha - ared a pizza
Just to know you were there
Was too much to bear

Now we're older
And the music is changing,
The dances are strange to our feet now

I get dizzy
Cause we go round and round
Back and forth up and down  to the beat now

Though we're twistin
I'll remember forever
One dance that we'll never repeat now

I'll never forget
The night that we met
And I did the ma - ashed
Potatoes with you

Then there's a great spoken outro, with just the right balance of crazed conviction and hint of amusement:
Honey, now everyone's dancin' the twist, and the stomp, and the bird - and even the watusi. But honey in this heart of mine there was only one dance with soul, and that was the ma - a - ashed potatoes. Oh honey the mashed potatoes was the only dance that ever had any soul at all, and honey you knooow what I'm talkin' about ...

And off he fades into Goffin-assisted immortality.

There's a biography of Bright on the allmusic website here, which suggests that Bob Keane, boss of Del-Fi, tried him out on a variety of styles including "surf and hot rod instrumentals, Johnny Rivers-style teen rock" as well as the Goffin and King number but concludes that "Bright remains an unknown due to his poor business dealings, legal problems, and alcohol-fueled madness" - the latter apparently scuppering a gig as Elvis's guitarist.

But that pop trifle endures - and many thanks to Clarke for bringing it to my attention.

And hey, you could even say it comes with the personal endorsement of Sam Cooke:

Everybody's swinging
Sally's doing that twist now
If you take requests, I -
I got a few for you
Play that song called Soul Twist
Play that one called I Know
Don't forget them Mashed Potatoes
No other songs will do ...
 Actually, shall we - ? I mean, if you're only going to have one mashed potatoes-dedicated post in your blog, you may as well add a knob of butter ...

Shall we? Oh, go on ... He may have to go but he never could forget them Mashed Potatoes - never could. More or less purged of the strings-assisted melancholy of the studio version, this is Sam Cooke live at the Harlem Square Club (not in Harlem), suggesting what he might have been like in Soul Stirrers days:

Check the Rock-It Radio Programs Page, here, for the latest Clarke Davis Show (at the time of posting, Sunday January 29th, there isn't a Clarke show but keep checking or try some of the others, though no one else is quite so fixated with the year of 1963 ...) More about Clarke on the DJ page here.

Carole King page at spectropop here.

Oh, and the title? Well, Bobby "Boris" Pickett's Monster Mash was a ghoulish sendup of the Dee Dee Sharp record, later covered by the Bonzo Dog Band. Monster Mash is a classic  but as I probably first  became aware of it via the Bonzos and Do Not Adjust Your Set, that is the version I include below:

There. Finita la comedia - as Mandy Rice Davies once said. In a Tom Stoppard play and everything.

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