Monday, September 7, 2009

Looking back at Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots

On my Facebook account, I just wrote a parody note entitled "What if President Carter had spoken at Wakefield?" It consisted of a long look back to high school events from other 30 years ago, and in the course of the post-note comments I made a shocking admission:

I am not proud to say that I owned the entire Rick Dees album. (On cassette.)

Several years after I graduated from Wakefield, I moved to the Los Angeles area and had the opportunity to listen to Rick Dees on a daily basis, if I so desired. As time went on, I desired to listen to him less and less, and was very happy when Ryan Seacrest replaced Rick Dees at KIIS-FM...only to be disappointed when Rick's tired routines popped up elsewhere on the radio dial.

But back in the 1970s, Dees' routines were fresh and least to me. (Maybe people in Memphis were getting tired of him.) And yes, I did own the Rick Dees album that included "Disco Duck."

I figure that some of you are familiar with the title track, a novelty track in which a guy with a duck voice was enjoying the disco beat - "get down mama!" This gave Dees a healthy dose of national fame, which he used to appear on "The Midnight Special".

The album included some other songs in the same vein ("Dis-Gorilla," anyone?), but two of the other songs still stand out in my mind today. Let's start with "Barely White," in which a man with a deep voice is completely unsuccessful in picking up a woman..."I stuck out tonight, even though I'm Barely White." I actually enjoyed the song, and still enjoy it today, but Wilson & Alroy (who, as you may know, have very high standards) absolutely despised the song:

Ostensibly a parody of a certain R&B singer, with the Caucasian-American Dees performing both the egotistical seducer and his reluctant female prey in mock "black" accents, it manages to be at once incredibly offensive and totally unfunny... a magic combination. It's definitely worth a spin just to hear how ill-conceived and clueless an attempt at humor can be: the concluding watermelon reference is jaw-dropping.

The thing that strikes me, though, is that Rick Dees, a working DJ at the time the song was released, emerged unscathed from the experience, and is working in radio to this day.

For, record...I don't even recall the watermelon reference. Maybe my opinion would change if I did.

The other song that I recall fondly is called "The Peanut Prance." Coincidentally, my Facebook parody obviously focused on President Carter, and Rick Dees used his same formula - put a duck, gorilla, or whatever into a disco situation - and did the same with Jimmy Carter. I'd say more about the song, but I already wrote about it, and one of its co-authors, in an October 2, 2008 post. And that post referenced a July 11, 2005 post. But I'll repeat the joke with which Dees closed the song...and the album.

kissing 2 girls with mononucleosis will not give you stereonucleosis.

But those are just some of the highlights from this album. All Music Guide has the complete track listing:

1 Disco Duck
2 Barely White (That'll Get It Baby)
3 Bionic Feet
4 Flick the Bick
5 Disco Duck (Instrumental)
6 Dis-Gorilla
7 Doctor Disco
8 Bad Shark
9 He Ate Too Many Jelly Donuts
10 The Peanut Prance

I can't even recall some of these songs any more, but "Bad Shark" managed to parody both "Jaws" and "Shaft" simultaneously, and "He Ate Too Many Jelly Donuts" was about another Memphis resident.

Oh, and you know how kids moan about how their moms throw away their old baseball card collections? Well, someone has retained this album, and is selling it new...for $73.58.
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