Thursday, October 4, 1984
By Dennis Harvey
he Best of Annette (Rhino.
each Party (Rhino)
By D5ENNIS HARVEY
It must have taken an unusual exer-
ise :of sheer nerve, but the normally
earless Rhino Records of California
as surpassed itself by releasing three
nette Funicello albums from those
;olden days of surf and sun, just before
he youth of Southern Cal. started gor-
ing out their hair and dropping acid.
The American International "beach
party" movies and their imitators may
save seemed at the time like the very
nadir of Hollywood mild youth pics (as
apposed to the wild youth classics like
Teenage Doll and The Cool and The
razy, but like most forms of pure ex-
oitation, they look more inspired with
age. And Annette was their perfect
centerpiece, the vaguely inhuman
pneumatic symbol for a world firmly
rooted in the abstract realities of back-
projection and pie-throwing sep-
tugenarian comedians. From the
Mouseketeers to Frankie Avalon to Jif-
fy Peanut Butter- WOW. Even as
early as 1968 Annette was already
enough of a pop culture icon to. con-
ciously parody herself (in the
onkee's lengendary first-and-last
feature film, Head). If Andy?. Warhol
hasn't done an Annette portrait yet, he
Rhino's three albums (one flew com-
pilation and two reissues) can't recap-
ture all the subtleties of actually wat-
ching, say, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini,
but they have a peculiar charm of their
own. It's virtually impossible to think
of an equally well-known female
popular vocalist as cheerfully amateur
as Annette, with intonations so
remarkably devoid of variety. Heavily
double-tracked throughout these recor-
ds, she lends an equally pert recitative
quality to everything from sap he's-so-
mean ballads to makeout anthems to
Hawaiian campfire ditties.
Most of the music is generic watered
surf-combo stuff, with backing vocals
of a sort that changed very little bet-
ween Paul Anka and the Partridge
Family. If you can't see much appeal
in owning all three records (admit-
tedly, this signifies perhaps excessive
listening commitment), the smart
shopper's choice is definitley The Best
of Annette, compiled by L.A. dj and
serious Annette revivalist Rodney
Bingenheimer. This is really fun stuff,
with a wider range and less painful
filler than the two reissued LPs.
The first side is bent in the direction of
late '50's/early '60's teen-idol pop and
balladry. Particularly hopping is the
opening "Tall Paul" (a rather perver-
sely single-minded ode to her
boyfriend's size-"He's my moun-
tain/He's my tree/We go steady/Paul
and me"), which was Annette's biggest
chart success. And no wonder, with
those handclaps, cowbells, sax breaks
and wierd sentiments. Twist-worthy as
well is "Pajama Party" (which, sur-
prisingly, seems to be co-ed: "Grab
your date/Don't be late"), and rather
stunning bossa-noval-type fun can be
had with "Jamaican Ska," which
comes complete with spoken dance in-
structions a la"Locomotion."
Side two moves toward the surf sound
with one of Annette's finest hours, the
theme from The Monkey's Uncle, with
invaluable instrumental and vocal
backup by the sainted Beach Boys (who
also performed it in the film, wearing
suits and ties). "California Sun" is a
nicely gung-ho gender switch on beach-
lust songs, panting after surfin' boys,
and "Muscle Beach Party" hits the bell
at the top of the scale for sheer healthy
vulgarity ("Flex your muscles for
kicks, now now now/Gotta hustle the
chicks, yeah yeah yeah/Take your
vitamin pill now/Give the honeys a
thrill, let's go! ").
"Beach Party" is arguably the
greatest of all wimp surf anthems
(allowing for the notion that the Beach
Boys, Jan & Dean etc. were pointedly
not wimps), and if you still haven't
gotten the idea, there's "Bikini Beach"
and "Swingin' and Surfin' " to clinch it.
Kitsch junkies can get theirs with
"Pineappale Princess" and "I Dream
of Frankie." Admittedly best taken in
small doses (except by the really har-
dcore devotees), this Best of collection
is a delightful relic-its energy may be
contrived and cloying at times, but hey,
there iSenergy here.
The two "movie" reissues, Beach
Party and Muscle Beach Party, are of
more limited appeal. It's a pity these
aren't really sountracks (they're
"songs from the American Inter-
national film" and unrelated tracks
recorded under Annette's Disney con-
tract)-appearances by Frankie
Avalon and other would have alleviated
the eventual tedium of these assembly-
line vehicles for the then-favorite role
model of 13-year-old girls.
Those with a less than voracious ap-
petite for camp may find themselves
reaching for a Valium,' but there are
gems to be found. Beach Party
:<r 5thAvenue at liberyS
DAILY 1 st MATINEE $2.00
features the aggressive cha-cha "Sur--
fin' Luau" (further proof that no one I ,
could pronounce native phrases as C /
awkwardly as Annette), the bizarre",;s
surfer-herioc-poem "The Battle of San
Onofre," and the atypically randy # t
"Don't Stop Now" ("Everytime you
twist your hips/Something inside goes"t ya i
flippity-flip"). Muscle Beach Party
hits paydirt with "Muscle Hustle"
(which conceptually would make a
great staple at fraternity and leather_
bars), and several dragstip odes, in- "
cluding the Shangri-Las-esque high
tragedy "Rebel Rider." However,
screams of pain are the only reasonable
response to two terrifying novelty songs
about "Merlin Jones, the Scrambled
Egghead," which are conveniently
placed at the end of each side for easy
These records are hardly
rediscovered pop classics, unless yur
definition of that phrase can stretch to
incorporate the enjoyably goony as well
as the simply great. But there's a
charm to the definitively banal that or- Acclaimed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, a long-time fixture with
dinary gOOdneSS can never cap- the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the rest of the circus are
ture-and if that statement makes any currently entertaining audiences at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. The 113th
sense to you,it's high time YOU owned edition of the show will be in town until Oct. 7.
at least one Annette Funicello album.
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sing a sad song
LOS ANGELES (AP)-Music for the
movies isn't what it used to be.
Professional songwriters lament the
decline of original scores for films and
mplain that the symphonic
ackgrounds of Max Steiner and Franz
Waxman have been replaced by series
of vintage rock records. Another trend
they deplore is the use of electronic
music, such as Vangelis's one-man
score for "Chariots of Fire." And with
virtually no musicals being filmed,
work in Hollywood has been scarce for
most of the men and women who have
made America's movie music.
"Twenty years ago, every studio has
ff orchestras," said Jimmy Clark,
ocal business representative of the
American Federation of Musicians.
"That is all gone, and now all musicians
are free-lance. Once a player gets in-
side, it's OK. But you've got to know
somebody who knows somebody hwo
knows somebody. That's the way it
Many of today's films are scored with
old tapes, Clark added; others are
"runaway" scores ' recorded in
*ngland, Germany and other foreign
countries. The union has tried to stop
the runaways without much success.
At ' a recent celebration by the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences of 50 years of Oscar-winning
music, Clark and others in the music
end of moviemaking talked about the
fate of the moive score. During the
celebration, Bill Conti's 30-piece or-
chestra played the lush Oscar scores of
the years. The last decade seemed
etchy and undistinguished.
" 'Nashville' was the first movie in
which the actors were encouraged to
write their own songs, said actor Keith
Carradine, who introduced the Oscar
winners of the 1970s.
Though Carradine's song, the en-
dearing "I'm Easy," was the 1975 win-
ner,,.having actors write their own
songs is something the pros deplore.
"Did you notice how they skipped
overthe songs of the 1970s, throwing in
bunch of scores like 'Chariots of
ire'?" said songwriter Jay
Livingston. "Most of the songs aren't
worth hearing." Livingston and par-
tner Ray Evans were Paramount Pic-
ture's resident songsmiths during the
'40s and '50s, producing an incredible
amount of title songs and musical
scores. Their Oscar winners include
"Buttons and Bows," "Mona Lisa" and
"Que Sera, Sera." And among their
other movie songs were "To Each His
Own,'' 'Golden Earrings'' and ''Silver
"Ray and I haven't worked in a studio
for years," Livingston said. "We write
special material for nightclub acts and
play concerts ourselves. We just
finished writing a score for an
animated version of 'A Medsummer's
Night Dream' on spec. A couple of for-
mer Disney artists are trying to get it
financed. If it goes, we'll get a piece of
Harry Lowjeski, executive director of
music for MGM-UA, traced the history
of film scoring: "In the first days of
underscoring, published mood music
was used. Then Erich Korngold, a
schooled composer, became the first to
write music for the film, treating the
script like the libretto of an opera. In
the period that followed, it was
fashionable to fill the motion picture
with wall-to-wall music." Pop songs
were popular on film scores in the '60s,
said Lowjeski, then Francis Lai's score
for "Love Story" brought a return to
the classically oriented scores by such
composers as John Williams and Jerry
"Saturday Night Fever" proved the
value of having an album complement
the release of a movie, and afterward
producers went album-crazy.
"You had record executives trying to
dictate what music would be in the
film," said Lowjeski.
Because studios are eager to capture
the 14-24 age group that supports most
movies, the trend to pop music will
doubtless continue, he added.
"Nowadays they hire a rock musician
to write the songs," laments songsmith
Livingston. "They never have any
relation to the picture.- It makes no sen-
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NO CIVIUAN BAND
CAN MAKE YOU THIS OFFER.
If you're a musician who's serious
about performing, you should take a
serious look at the Army.
Army bands offer you an average
of 40 performances a month. In every-
thing from concerts to parades.
Army bands also offer you a
chance to travel.
The Army has bands performing
in Japan, Hawaii, Europe and all
And Army bands offer you the
chance to play with good musicians. Just
to qualify, you have to be able to sight-
read music you've never seen before and
demonstrate several other musical skills.
It's a genuine, right-now, imme-
Compare it to your civilian offers.
Then write: Army Opportunities, P.O.
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BE ALLYOU CAN BE.
The Writers-In-Residence Program at the
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