And speaking of unreported atrocities:
|Jerry Mathers, Atlantic recording artist|
Jerry Mathers, star of TV's Leave It To Beaver (a show I dearly love), is hardly the first or last celebrity to do a misguided cash-in pop record. But his ill-fated attempt at Top 40 stardom certainly qualifies as one of the most unusual of its kind. In 1962, when Beaver was nearing the end of its long run, Mathers cut a single for Atlantic Records, a label which was home to many of the all-time greats of soul music. What Beaver Cleaver was doing there is anyone's guess. And yet, his 45 RPM record of "Don't Cha Cry" b/w "Wind Up Toy" definitely exists. The A-side is nothing special, just a drippy teen ballad. It's the B-side which has become a curiosity among collectors. At least vocally, "Wind Up Toy" sounds like a prototype for the punk music of the late 1970s. Mathers "sings" strictly through his nose and affects a kind of growling, snarling delivery throughout the song. Believe it or not, Jerry Mathers reminds me a lot of Johnny Rotten on this record! Throw in a persistent "ratchet" sound effect in the arrangement, and this makes for a very unusual record indeed.
First, here's the dull A-side, "Don't Cha Cry":
Snoozers, right? But here's "Wind-Up Toy":
Uh... yeah. Sure, Jerry.
Just for the sake of history, here's a 2009 interview with Mathers in which he reflects on his entire career, including his stint as a recording artist. He actually hints at other records he made, but my copy of Goldmine's Celebrity Vocals -- a guide to Hollywood vanity records -- only lists the one Atlantic 45. It's a great interview, though. Jerry talks about emceeing at a Buffalo Springfield concert, getting his psychology degree, and performing in Hairspray on Broadway. He seems like a really nice guy who's very grateful for the career he's had. This clip cheered me up a lot on a gray and gloomy November day: