Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jim Copp and Ed Brown
"The Hen with the Low I.Q."

Jim Copp and Ed Brown
Gumdrop Follies
(Playhouse Records, 1965)

I grew up in northwestern Louisiana, in the 1960s and '70s. Every year, my family would make a four-hour or so trip to Dallas, TX to Neimann Marcus's flagship store's annual Fortnight event.

Of course, me being a wee bairn, my favorite place was the amazing toy department. It's been over 30 years since the last time we went, but I still have some of the toys and things purchased on those trips. Sadly, my archaeopteryx, which flew by flapping its rubber band-driven, cellophane wings, is long gone, and my helicopter's rotor blades all eventually broke, as flying high into the sky then crashing to the ground repeatedly was not particularly friendly to plastic.

I have some tiny building toys, however, that came in matchboxes (I was obsessed with anything-and-everything miniature), and I have both Jim Copp and Ed Brown records we bought, direct from the men themselves! Both were autographed personally to me, much to my delight! Decades later, internet searches turned up the website for Playhouse Records, and I called the phone number listed. Even as an adult, I was starstruck to be speaking to Jim Copp himself on the phone! Sadly, Mr. Brown had passed away many years before.

See, Jim Copp and Ed Brown were the kings of children's records. While most kids records were simple songs and stories, and usually had a moral to convey along with some adult condescension, Jim and Ed's records were hilarious and subversive. The humor was absurdist, adults (both human and anthropomorphous non-human) were portrayed in an often unflattering light, and the stories were rather dark.

Today's selection comes from their seventh album, Gumdrop Follies, which is presented as a show, complete with backstage talk and the sounds of the audience. As it's a show, the cover folds out into a stage with proscenium arch. The album also came with several sheets of cardboard characters and scenery, so listeners could perform the record as it played. Below, the Agatha, the mentally challenged hen, and her foollowers act out their tale of stupidity and a brush with death. Yes, I've owned this record for forty plus years, yet I still have all of the scenery, props, and actors!

Quite a few of Copp and Brown's albums can now be purchased on CD, but Gumdrop Follies has yet to be reissued in digital format. It is available direct from the label on cassette, however, along with all their other albums, in various formats, and a book of stories by Jim! Here's the order form. You're welcome.

4 biased opinions:

VirginiaM said...

What did Mr Copp think about your call? Does he often hear from fans?

Anonymous said...

Too bad it's not on CD, it would sounds soooo much better.

Lightning Baltimore said...

Well, it'd be nice to have on CD as my record is fairly beat up; I did quite a bit of declicking on this track, in fact. Another piece I would've used instead, "Mr. and Mrs. Destitute," turned out to have a big, honkin' scratch partway through, causing bad skipping.


Biki said...