Category Archives: 1980s

The Fun Songs of Shamu and His Crew (K-Tel Records for Sea World, 1982)

The whole Sea World thing is pretty messed up if you ask me. I mean, killer whales don’t exactly like living in captivity. That’s why Shamu was “retired” in 1971 after she bit a trainers leg. And didn’t some lady get killed last year at Sea World by a killer whale?

This record is made up of songs sung not only by Shamu (who incidentally had been dead for 11 years when this was released), but also her whole “crew.” Also weird– this record refers to Shamu as a dude when she was most certainly a lady-whale. Why would they do that?? These two tracks feature some lesser know characters, Virgil Pelican singing “Fill You Bill” and Seamore Sea Lion singing “Seal It With A Kiss.”

From the album cover: “Virgil is the jolly cook on the Fun Ship. When you hear his chow bell ring, you will know it’s time to fill your bill (or mouth as the case may be.) Listen to him rattle his pots and pans as he serves up yummy seafood stew.”

“Seamore Sea Lion loves to show off with his super athletic stunts and his crazy rock song. As you will hear Seamore has a crush on Dolly Dolphin and will try anything to get her attention.”

It’s as weird as it sounds. Enjoy with a nice lobster roll or maybe some very strong drugs. (Psst. Looks like Way Out Junk has the entire rip if you need to hear this one in it’s entirety.)

Fill Your Bill – Shamu and His Crew
Seal It With A Kiss – Shamu and His Crew

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Tullio De Piscopo – Acqua E Viento (EMI Italiana, 1983)

Snatched this up during a dollar record binge, mostly out of appreciation for the tympani mallet holster he is wearing on he cover. This record seems to fall under the “Italian Disco” classification, however, it doesn’t sound disco-y to me at all. More like jazzy rock. And strangely, nary a tympani solo to be found.

Stop Bajon – Tullio De Piscopo
I’ Sono ‘E Notte – Tullio De Piscopo

Rene Meave – Leavin’ Cheboygan (And Joining the Cabbage Patch Kids) (Walrus Records, 1984)

OK eighties kids– Who remembers Cabbage Patch Dolls? They were “kids” that grew in a magical garden, yet inexplicably had a belly button. Some dude name Xavier signed all their asses before they were “adopted” and they came complete with a birth certificate. The popularity of the Cabbage Patch dolls was a fad that caused riots when stores ran out too quickly or didn’t receive their shipments on time.  This was a big business, and lots of people were making bank on these unflatterinly puffy faced monsters.

Rene Meave saw this all going down and came up with a scheme to ride the wave of Cabbage Patch madness. He recorded Leavin’ Cheboygan (And Joining the Cabbage Patch Kids) with dollar signs in his eyes. The song itself is hilariously bad. “If you’re not loved like Bo Derek / no need to feel lost or hysteric,” is one of the more notably terrible lines.

And it seems as though they all knew the song was bad but went for it anyway. A 1984 article in the Kalamazoo Gazette quotes the owner of Walrus Records as saying, “We know it isn’t Stairway to Heaven, but its the song to get us over. The whole project is to make money so we can do what we want to do.” 5,000 copies of the song were pressed but it looks like they never made it out of Michigan, let alone to the top of the charts.

Rene Meave – Leavin’ Cheboygan

John Teter – If I Can Help Somebody (Benson Records,

From the liner notes:

“This record is dedicated to my wife Carol and daughter Pam for without their support this record would not be possible.

I want to thanks those who prayed for me during my time  of sickness and have continually encouraged me in pursuing God’s will in my life. Thank you to the members of the First Baptist Church of Maysville, Missouri; and also to th epeople of Dekalb Country for your support. A special thanks to my mother and father for providing me with a Christian home and for giving me the opportunity to study music. I pray that this record will glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God loves you, and so do I.”

Come On Down – John Teter

Rappin’ Duke – s/t 12 inch (JWP Records, 1984)

Remember Rappin’ Duke? / Da-haa, da-haa / You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far” – The Notorious B.I.G

Chances are that you don’t remember The Rappin’ Duke, but you probably recall the 1994 track Juicy, The Notorious B.I.G,’s  reminiscence of his rise from drug dealer to world famous rapper. Every so often this track catches me at just the right time and I actually tear up a little. Its really fucking good, maybe one of the best rap songs ever recorded.

Early 80′ s hip-hop references pepper Juicy; Mr. Magic and DJ Marley Mal (first hip-hop radio show hosts), Word Up Magazine, and Funkmaster Flex (DJ on NYC’s Hot 97, the station where Lil’ Kim’s entourage would be shot up 12 years later. )

But who is the Rappin’ Duke? This self-titled (real name Shawn Brown) novelty hip-hop track took #73 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts in 1985. The song is a bizarre John Wayne parody that lampoons everything the Duke holds dear; 6-shooters, western braggadocio (“what I do on your grave won’t pass for flowers”), Ronald Reagan, the Ponderosa Ranch and Wayne’s own distinctive laugh repeated throughout the song as a deadpan “Dah-haa, Dah-haa.”

It’s hard not to see it from Biggie’s perspective. In just 10 years rap and hip-hop had gone from obscure send-ups of uber-white cow folk to serious business. The Rappin’ Duke might only be a footnote to music history, but an important one to Biggie.

Rappin’ Duke (download)

The Buck Pets – Snatch Rap (Island Records, 1987)

Named the wealthiest city in the US in 2008 and a consistent top 10 contender for “Best Quality of Life,” Plano, Texas didn’t always have such a sterling reputation. Luxury cars and nose jobs have always been fodder for high school lunch room talk in this Dallas suburb, but so have suicide, steroids and heroin overdoses.

Way before anyone uttered the phrase “McMansion,” executives flocked to Plano and it’s sprawling corporate campuses to build tasteless castles in so-called golf course communities. Does this sound a little like hell? It must have felt that way to the nine high school students who offed themselves in the early eighties, a tragedy that produced articles in the national media that were as much rubber-necking as they were hand-wringing. (Seemingly blind to their problems, the 90’s found Plano with an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths and less then ten years later, a string of hospitalizations related to steroid abuse.)

Guitarist Andy Thompson and singer Chris Savage met as Plano high school students in 1984. Together they formed the Buck Pets, a band that traded coked out for fuzzed out preppy for punk rock. In just a few years they were a staple of the Deep Ellum scene, appearing on this 1987 Island Records compilation “The Sound of Seep Ellum.”  They have the distinction of being the only band on the comp to get picked up by the label, later releasing two full-length albums.

If these guys has been born in Westchester County they might have been the first Vampire Weekend. Thankfully they opted for good old fashioned Texas rock instead. Frequent openers for the Ramones, Flaming Lips and Janes Addiction, the band broke up in 1993.

The Buck Pets – Snatch Rap (download&stream)


That’ll Work (2001) – Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers (I Hear Ya! Records, 1988)

So I was checking out the new Lil’ Wayne mixtape, No Ceilings, and was surprised to hear the distinctive theme song from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey sampled on the track Banned From T.V.

The track is solid right out of the gate. How Weezy comes up with these lyrics I will never know; this guy is constantly surprising me.

“Its Weezy mother fuckin’ / easy with the hatin’ / Bitch, I’m in the building / You just decorating / I’m just detonating  / then I get blatant / more things worse than internet dating”

I’m just trying to picture Weezy’s OKCupid profile–  About Me: I’m a beast, I’m a dog, I’m a mother fuckin’ problem. I also like to watch tennis

“I go hard like Rafael Nadal / And if the bitches were havin it, I bet we have them all / And man Im so high its like an ever-lasting fall / And I’m chargin these hoes like women basketball”

It reminded me of a weird Chuck Brown record I have that also samples the 2001 theme, That’ll Work (2001). Mr. Brown works the 2001 sample into a fairly straight-forward dance number, in the regional style of Go-Go music that he helped to popularize throughout the Washington D.C. area. This dude is a legend, if you like to shake your booty I highly recommend checking him out.

The 2001 theme was originally composed by Richard Strauss in 1896 as Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). The composition has been sampled and incorporated into many popular works of the 20th century, owning to its distinctive refrain and its public domain copyright status. Less royalties, more kush. I think Chuck and Weezy would both agree with that.

Lil’ Wayne  – Banned from T.V. (download&stream)

Chuck Brown – That’ll Do (2001) (download&stream)