Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Radio Special #2 - 50s-70s Rock n Roll Novelty Songs

Hello holiday heads! This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a bunch of rockin' Christmas tunes from around the world. While I might not be jolly old Saint Nick, I can still deliver some good tunes for your last-minute wrapping. As always, the show will stay up on the KUCR archives for a few weeks, so if you missed the show and want to listen on your own time, make sure to listen while you can. If you just want to hear the music, check out the playlist down below, but if you want a summary of what I talked about during the show... keep reading. Be sure to also check out last year's Christmas playlist, and if you are feeling crafty, feel free to print out a foldable box I created that's based off of an unusual robotic Santa toy from days gone by.

The Boys Next Door as seen in Teen Tempo

Towards the beginning of the show, you heard The Boys Next Door, a group from Indianapolis, perform their song The Wildest Christmas. The group was fairly popular in their local scene and also appeared as The Four Wheels on two singles, Central High Playmate, and Sneaky Little Sleeper. According to a blog named 60's Indiana Band Szene, the group's name change was without the groups knowledge and eventually it was changed back to The Boys Next Door. The label Sundazed Music compiled the band's complete discography back in 1999 in a self-titled release which appears to be out of print and proves to be difficult to find online. While researching the band I found an article that appeared in a magazine named Teen Tempo which covers a concert that the band put on from the rooftop of a newly opened department store named Dorothy's Woman's Apparel Shop. It's wild seeing a photo of band members standing on a pallet that's being hoisted up towards the roof via forklift. 

Rankin/Bass TV special inspired flyer paired with one of the show's misfit toys

Next up you heard The Galaxies cover of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and I mentioned that the character Rudolph was created by Robert L. May for a book that was sold at Montgomery Ward. However, the character was popularized by the song which came about a decade later and was penned by May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks. If you are interested in the history of the song, there is a great piece that aired on NPR's Here and Now where they interviewed May's daughter Barbara May Lewis and discussed how Montgomery Ward gave May the rights to the story without realizing how big it would eventually become. For a first-hand account, you can also check out this interview with Marks that was conducted by Ian Whitcomb in 1972.

As the show continued, you heard Mae West's Merry Christmas Baby from the album Wild Christmas which followed in the footsteps of her previous surprise hit album Way Out West. During this time, West was around 72 and, although they were fairly outdated at the time, the album features Christmas themed alterations of West's famous catchphrases. Unlike Way Out West, Wild Christmas was released through the small record label Dagonet Records rather than the major label Tower Records. As a throwback to her previous album, Wild Christmas includes a cover of The Beatles track From Me To You with some holiday lines added to the song's intro. 

Of course, we ended the show with a novelty country song by Charlie Stewart named Santa Claus Ain't a Hippie. Stewart was a very opinionated individual and his songs reflected his visions of what he felt was taboo at the time. Of course, nowadays it all comes off very hokey with songs about Stewart's disapproval of unions, Johnny Cash, and Fidel Castro but the songs are strange snapshots of their time.

And a ho ho ho folks! That's about it for this episode's rundown. Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

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