Normally, we wait until the fat lady sings but Allan Sherman preferred to instead warble to the obese object of obscure desire, in this case Mrs. Goldfarb, the target of his chubby-chasing enamorment, and from there we're off to the races. For Swingin' Lovers/Livers was the then-top-selling artist's follow-up to the LP boasting his hit Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh. It was also the last release of his to reach #1 on the charts, and though following LPs would be quite good, he thenceafter began a long slow decline into drink, overeating, divorce, and sporadic impoverishment, at one point living off unemployment, until a heart attack killed him at the much too young age of 47. Before he passed, though, he was an artist to the end and even, as I noted elsewhere, penned a highly controversial humorous book, The Rape of the A.P.E. (American Puritan Ethic), on the sexual revolution that even caught the eye of Hugh Hefner, who published it through his Playboy Press.
That mention is not gratuitous. I bought the book when it came out in '73, found it to be a great companion to Jess Lair's Sex: If I Didn't Laugh, I'd Cry and Albert Ellis' rational psychotherapy. I retain that exact copy to this day, still finding it timeless, hilarious, and prescient. The tome was acclaimed by comedians and writers alike, managing to snag Steve Allen and Art Buchwald as endorsees, yet it faded quickly and is today unknown. Nonetheless, Buchwald, another Hef fave, had always lauded Sherman's unique talents, and one can find his accolades on the reverse of this LP's cover.
The CD version of the Lovers/Livers LP, as the title states, indeed swings just as much as the vinyl but benefits greatly from a cleaned-up recording so immaculate that the listener feels as though transported back to those famed, exclusive, invitation-only affairs occasioning the recording sessions themselves. As usual, the backing instrumentation and choir are top-notch, and he here takes the opportunity to execute a swipe at pop music, particularly against the Beatles. Though the sentiment reminds one a bit of Johnny Carson's much nastier swipes at the youth culture (Carson appeared in a series of haberdashing adverts that piffled and snorted at hippies and ilk), a much larger reminiscence is provoked. Even liner writer Dr. Demento admits he hated the song back in '64 but has since come to appreciate its wry insights. Still, one wonders: how much might that one song have contributed to Sherman losing significant amounts of youth consumers?
It's an interesting question, and re-issues like this one only fire further thought. I mean, back then, the Beatles and the Stones constituted religion (I was exempt from all that, at the time being a staunch Dave Clark 5 and Paul Revere & the Raiders aficionado), and teenagers would indeed throw overboard anyone daring to commit sacrilege, but that's what makes a great comedian: sacrilege, blasphemy, and heresy. Sherman lanced more than a few sacred cows, not as outrageously as Lenny, George, or Mort, but with a sidelong glance and a wink, and I strongly suspect that the now dinosauring Boomer generation is going to find a hell of a lot more in these pristine re-releases than it would ever otherwise have guessed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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