Gangsters & Pranksters: Postscript

As always seems to happen, as soon as I wrapped up the last part of Gangsters & Pranksters, I either learned about or was reminded of several things that I might have liked to include. Foremost among them is this one, which is from a bizarre album called Songs of Couch and Consultation:


Says Allmusic:

Jazz saxophonist Bud Freeman came up with the idea for Songs of Couch & Consultation, a cult classic comedy album that pokes fun at psychoanalysis and psychiatric jargon. Freeman wrote a dozen songs’ worth of lyrics, which Leon Pober set to music and Bob Thompson arranged. Katie Lee, an extraordinarily pretty folk singer who previously recorded an album for Specialty called Spicy Songs for Cool Knights, was brought in to sing and pose for the cheesecake album cover. The songs describe an assortment of neuroses and psychiatric conditions in a variety of musical styles, delivered with a heavy dose of hand-wringing self-scrutiny. There’s ragtime, big-band blues, and even cowboy music as Lee coos her way through topics such as schizophrenia, repressed hostility, and maladjustment.

I also forgot (to my great shame) about the Bonzo Dog Band’s “Ali Baba’s Camel,” which begins with this snappy verse:

You’ve heard of Ali Baba
Forty thieves had he
Out for what we all want
Lots of LSD

Musically this song is pretty wackadoo, even by Bonzos standards, and so would have been hard to mix in with other stuff.


But I probably would have segued it into or out of John Holt’s “Ali Baba”:


And while we’re at it, let’s listen to King Tubby’s dub version, just because it’s awesome. That will be all for today. Class dismissed.

Gangsters & Pranksters III, Part 4

Year: 2021
Original Format: mp3

For those of you with Too Much Time on Your Hands, I have put together a YouTube playlist covering the entire Gangsters & Pranksters series. It is not comprehensive — I only included things that have a moving visual component — but it’s not a bad way to while away an hour or three.


If you prefer to stick with the old-fashioned audio, here you go. Playlist is after the jump, as always.

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Gangsters & Pranksters III, Part 3

Year: 2021
Original Format: mp3

Ringo in the “Back Off Boogaloo” video, looking like the world’s grooviest Yeti.

The nice thing about the “& Pranksters” part of this concept is that if you loosen your mind enough, you can squeeze in just about anything. I took some liberties here but the result sounds pretty damn good, to my ear at least.

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Gangsters & Pranksters III, Part 1

Year: 2021
Original Format: mp3

The third installment of anything is usually the mistake. Godfather III, Alien 3, whatever that third Matrix movie was… and don’t get me started on Return of the Jedi.

It is with full knowledge of this that I’m plowing ahead with a third round of Gangsters & Pranksters. In the 17 years since the last one a lot of good material has piled up, including older stuff I didn’t know about or didn’t properly appreciate at the time. I like the way this one sounds; see if you agree.

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Gangsters & Pranksters II, Part 4

“Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan… one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present…. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu.” —The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu

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Gangsters & Pranksters II, Part 3

Year: 2004
Original Format: CD

In this episode: Burroughs calls the law. Our hero does some time, is released, discovers that his woman has been sleeping with his best friend, and takes revenge; takes some time to reevaluate his priorities; and re-emerges with a new mission: to teach all the fakers and perpetrators a lesson they won’t soon forget.

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Gangsters & Pranksters II, Part 1

Year: 2004
Original Format: CD

As usually happens, as soon as I finished the original Gangsters & Pranksters, I started coming across more songs that fit the theme. A sequel was inevitable, and finally materialized in 2004 in the form of two jam-packed CDs.

When I switched from cassettes to CDs I continued my policy of using every bit of available bandwidth — which makes sound economic sense. But it is obvious now that 80 minutes of music at a time is just too much. So I am dividing the two discs of G&PII into four installments of ~40 minutes each, which is a little more reasonable.

Having decided that the first edition was light on hip-hop, I leaned into the gangsta rap on this one. Maybe a little too much; the n-word appears on it much more than on anything else I’ve ever made, and the b-word too, for that matter. But that’s what can happen when you keep it real.

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Gangsters & Pranksters, Side B

Year: 1996
Original Format: cassette

This one has some trace of a narrative arc: Our hero tries to go straight, but is betrayed and pulled back into the criminal life; some scores are made and adventures had; but in the end the outlaw must die — because how else will we learn our lesson?

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