Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Novelty Songs: 1914-1946: Crazy and Obscure [Trikont, 2001]
Not all so obscure--starts with the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and includes the Ink Spots, Spike Jones (twice), and the Memphis Jug Band. Not all so crazy, either--what distinguishes Kanui & Lula's "Tomi Tomi," sanity-wise, from dozens of other "Hawaiian" hits of the '20s and '30s? But most of it I'd never heard on record, including such remnants of other media as Groucho Marx's "I'm Against It," Danny Kaye's "Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians)," and Jimmy Durante's "Inka Dinka Doo." Touchingly, given its Deutschland provenance, the selection ends with an English music hall singer praising the kaiser in 1913, Spike Jones farting in "Der Führer's Face" in 1942, and peaced-out Germans Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt laughing their asses off to the accompaniment of a confusedbrass instrument in the hiatus between World War I and the crash. A