The Freberg Follies

:: John And Marsha ::

:: The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise ::

:: Try ::

:: I've Got You Under My Skin ::

Here's news: I've always loved records, and some of the earliest records I loved were comedy records, probably because they made me laugh (duh). An Aunt and Uncle had a Stan Freberg album, and I loved to listen to "John and Marsha". Even when I was very young I understood what was going on. It was a soap opera, with all the twists and turns of melodrama, yet the only words spoken were John saying "Marsha", and Marsha saying "John". Genius!

Freberg was basically just that, and his association with Capitol Records in the early 50s afforded him the opportunity to do parodies of recording artists of the day, while utilizing the talents of Capitol's stable of studio musicians, arrangers and producers, all to great effect. Everyone from Lawrence Welk to Elvis Presley got the Freberg treatment, and in the case of Johnnie Ray, whose "Cry" was parodied on this EP ("Try"), he was none too happy with the unflattering results. Freberg was dead on though, and his contempt for rock & roll and much of the pop culture of the day was thinly veiled, at best.

Freberg was given a radio show in the mid-50s, but it didn't work out because he wouldn't allow himself to be sponsored by tobacco or liquor companies, and his spoofs of other advertisers flew in the face of his network bosses. Later, in the 60s he got into the advertising game himself, creating ads for Contadina Tomato Paste and Sunsweet Prunes, and in the 80s he produced ads for the Encyclopedia Britannica employing his teenage son who was obviously a chip off the old block.

I chose to ignore Freberg in my later record collecting years, thinking his work would be quirkily annoying, or just plain corny, until I found this EP and decided to revisit John and Marsha. I'm glad I did because, all these years later it's still funny. Or at least it is to the 5 year old in me.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007 1:44:00 PM

I think Stan is great!! A true genius. I've always seeked out his records and they never fail to amuse me. Though I disagree with his 'hatred' of R&R, I listen with an open mind. His parodies are really funny and worth several listens to absorb it all.

..... bbb    

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 7:13:00 PM

Thanks, Mike, for posting the EP in its entirety. I'm almost ashamed to confess that Freberg is completely new to me.
What truly astounds me is not the barbed accuracy of his mimicry, but the real sense of just how much he may have unwittingly contributed to the vapid rock n roll culture he held in such contempt.
"Try" is absolutely fucking amazing. It serves as a virtual blueprint for Lux Interior's strangled mule brayings almost twenty-five years later. I can easily imagine poor Johnnie Ray's outrage on hearing this slur on him back in 1952.
It's not merely that it makes him look an ass. It's the unpalatable heresy that Freberg's vocal performance outstrips his own by a hillbilly's country mile.    

Thursday, February 08, 2007 9:26:00 AM

Stan was in advertising, he made the Contadina brand famous he turned America on to Chinese food with Chun-King... Here's a link...



Thursday, February 08, 2007 5:42:00 PM

My favorite Freberg is him doing the voices of "The Three Little Bops" from the Looney Tunes cartoon of the same name.    

Sunday, February 11, 2007 7:04:00 PM

Anyone know where one can get a copy of the Contandina radio commercials. I somehow acquired a radio station copy of these (on a 7", 33rpm record) when I was a kid and I thought they were great! Sadly, I've no idea whatever happened to that record.    

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:26:00 PM

Maybe a museum of broadcasting, or similar, would have the Contadina commercials. Maybe Contadina has them... I wish I could find one of those 1950s TV station test patterns, the one with the Indian Chief and the symbols etc... jack    

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