Still Breakin’ In

Not long ago, the people at S’More Entertainment and Rock Beat Records were kind enough to send me Long Live the King, a new compilation of the works of break-in artist Dickie Goodman, which is the sort of thing we love around here. And that’s excuse enough for me to dust off part of a post I wrote about Goodman back on December 9, 2008.

One fine day over 50 years ago, Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman got an idea: creating fake news broadcasts in which a reporter would be heard interviewing witnesses to a certain event, but the witnesses would respond with clips from current hit songs. These would eventually be known as “break-in records.” Buchanan and Goodman’s first break-in record, “The Flying Saucer,” became a #3 hit in the fall of 1956 after pioneering rock ‘n’ roll DJ Alan Freed started playing it on his New York radio shows. In the summer of 1957, “Flying Saucer Part 2″ made the Top 20. That record’s success, combined with the launch of Sputnik in October, made a Christmas break-in, “Santa and the Satellite,” nearly inevitable that year.

Buchanan left the music business in 1959, but Goodman carried on. In the 60s, his break-in records usually responded to television fads. “Santa & the Touchables” was a parody of the TV show The Untouchables, “Ben Crazy” took off from the TV medical-show fad, and “Batman and His Grandmother” responded to the staggering popularity of the Batman TV series. Current events got Goodman’s attention later in the decade. In 1969, “On Campus” parodied the protest movement, and “Luna Trip” took on the Apollo 11 moon landing. . . .

“Watergrate” just missed the Top 40 during the summer of ’73, and “Energy Crisis ’74″ just made it a few months later. Goodman’s greatest hit was yet to come, once again in response to a cultural phenomenon that everyone was talking about. In October 1975, “Mr. Jaws” rose all the way to #1 in Cash Box and #4 in Billboard, and became a certified million-seller. Goodman’s final hit, “Kong,” got a bit of airplay in 1977, but Goodman disappeared from the scene after that, and he died in 1989.

For the last several years, Goodman’s son Jon has been keeping his father’s legacy alive, which makes the new compilation a particularly important event. There has been an unauthorized compilation floating around on the Internet for a few years, Greatest Fables, but Long Live the King is an official release with liner notes by Jon that do a good job of putting his father’s career into historical perspective. (Clearing the song samples must have been a challenge.) The album includes a new break-in record by Jon that incorporates his father’s voice—“think Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole,” says the accompanying press release. Since it won’t be topical for long, listen to “Election 2012” right here. Then go buy Long Live the King at Amazon or iTunes.

4 responses

  1. “Election 2012” was a letdown*, basically Pop’s “Hey ET” (an airplay smash in our region throughtout the summer of ’82) with a few new so-so snippets from Goodman junior. Nonetheless, the new Dickie collection is welcome news. I have that Greatest Fables disc around here somewhere, I had no idea it wasn’t authorized but it doesn’t surprise me given the clearance hurdles you allude to. In fact, some segments were obvious re-records. I can’t remember specific instances offhand; I want to say some Elvis clips were re-dos but I might be confusing Mr. Goodman’s œuvre with “Swing the Mood” (for which I apologize profusely).

    *Please this be the only scenario in which I make this declaration.

  2. I’ve always been intrigued by Dickie Goodman’s association with the Latin label Cotique in the late 60s/early 70s. I’d love to know how he ended up there.

  3. He was also involved with the Glass Bottle who had a decent hit “I Ain’t Got Time Anymore” in ’71.

    Even though it’s on one of my favorite labels (Red Bird) “Batman and His Grandmother” is a terrible record.

    The stuff from the 50’s is great, capturing the free-wheeling spirit of the rock and roll it was spoofing.

  4. […] use the song clips they had chosen for the record, so they asked the king of the break-in record, Dickie Goodman, for advice. Goodman told them, “You just do it and wait for the suits to come in.” […]

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