Friday, July 13, 2007

Christopher Guest's 'Art Rock Suite' from National Lampoon's 'Goodbye Pop' LP (1975)

Long before 'Best In Show' and all his other films, before his one season of SNL, before Nigel Tufnel and Spinal Tap, even before small appearances in episodes of 'All In The Family' and 'Laverne And Shirley', and before many other things as well, Christopher Guest was one of several brilliant young players on the syndicated National Lampoon Radio Hour and several of NatLamp's best comedy albums.

In a piece included on this 'music issue' LP released in '75, Guest, as narrator / music critic Roger de Swans, interviews musician Sid Gormless (also Guest) of 'The Dog's Breakfast', leading into this remarkably spot-on parody of over-wrought 'Art' rock bands of the period, performed by Guest in collaboration with Paul Jacobs and Paul Shaffer.

Guest had been involved in writing for National Lampoon almost from the beginning, going back to 1970, but was keen to do music.

When the magazine was preparing its first LP venture, 1972's 'Radio Dinner', Guest brought in musician Paul Jacobs and producer Bob Tischler, whom he'd met while working as a session musician.

Guest and Jacobs also worked together in 'Lemmings', Lampoon's travelling musical stage-show parody of Woodstock.

It had originally been intended for a very brief run, just to give the sound of audience response to the live album recording.

- You can see a bit of what the Lemmings show looked like over at YouTube, in clips featuring Guest, Jacobs, and some other familiar faces, before they were famous.

Paul Shaffer's association with the 'Radio Hour' crowd more than likely stemmed from his early-'70's gig as musical director of the Toronto cast production of 'Godspell', where he'd worked with many performers who were in that same Second City / National Lampoon Radio Hour / soon-to-be-SNL vortex.

From 'Goodbye Pop''s back cover 'linear' notes:

"Art Rock Suite is soon to be a major motion picture by Ken Russell. There are twenty-eight groups wrong with this song. Can you name them?
"Guest, Jacobs, and Shaffer share responsibility for the music.
"(Lampoon writer / editor Sean) Kelly remembers writing some of the lyrics on End Dust.
"Jacobs and Guest: guitar and vocals.
"Jacobs and Shaffer: bass, piano, and Arp synthesizer.
"Drums: Richard Crooks.
"Sound effects: Bob Tischler."

From National Lampoon's 1975 LP, 'Goodbye Pop', Listen to: Art Rock Suite (click for audio)

(Much thanks and praise to Mark's Very Large National Lampoon Site, THE place on the web for all things pertaining to those early, special days of 'Poon.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting that!
I heard it once in th elate seventies on the radio and never knew exactly where to find it.

Pete said...

Life imitates art!

Unknown said...

I was fortunate enough to buy a copy of this when it was available, and play "Kung Fu Christmas" every year.

Freshly-stirred links