Saturday, July 02, 2005

"My name is Jesse, and I'm a puppet-rocker." "Hi Jesse!"

The LA Weekly's Jesse Walker weighs in this week with an affectionately annotated discography of muppet-pop, including two LITG picks:

Sesame Street Fever (1978): I’ll start with the cover, because it’s the best album cover ever. It looks just like the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, except that isn’t John Travolta disco-dancing in a white leisure suit — it’s Grover. And those aren’t the Bee Gees posed behind him — they’re Ernie, Bert and Cookie Monster.

The album includes one actual Bee Gee as well, Robin Gibb, who sings a disco version of “I Love Trash.” The record, produced by the versatile Mr. Raposo, is filled with disco covers of Sesame Street standards, among them “Doin’ the Pigeon,” “Rubber Duckie” and “C Is for Cookie.” When
appropriate, the words are changed as well: In the original “Has Anybody Seen My Dog?,” Grover is happy simply to mistake a duck for a dog, but in this one he points out that the creature is “getting funky with Cookie Monster!”


Born To Add (1983): The second-best album cover ever: a Born To Run parody, with an earringed Bert as Bruce and Cookie Monster as Clarence Clemons. The title track is a knowing satire not just of “Born To Run” but of Springsteen’s entire oeuvre: It’s about a bunch of kids roaming the Jersey shore and . . . adding things. “One and two and three police persons spring out of the shadows/Down the corner comes one more/And we scream into that city night:/Three plus one makes four!

The album, produced and mostly written by Christopher Cerf, parodies everyone from the
Beatles to Barry White. The band plays tight, straightforward approximations of the appropriate genres, while the lyrics roam farther, alternately instructing the children and winking at the parents. Since I began by bemoaning the corruption of Cookie Monster, I should confess that he makes it through “Hey Food” (a track mysteriously missing from the CD reissue) without invoking a single sweet: “Hey food, me in the mood/for fish, meat or cheese called cheddar/Me eat them all before me am done/’cause not know which one/that me like better.” Sounds surprisingly healthy.

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