Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
There was a huge monster craze in America in the early 1960s, following the release of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and dozens of other classic horror films to television. In 1963, I was nine years old and in love with The Monsters. That same year, The Ran-Dells, a rock and roll trio from New Jersey, released a single on the Chairman label called "The Martian Hop." Fully aware of my monster-mania, my mother bought me a copy of the record. Now, I owned a few other 45s, but most of them had been purchased in plain white paper sleeves. "The Martian Hop" was different. "The Martian Hop" (seen below) came with a picture sleeve. This was a fairly rare occurrence in 1963 and the record became one of my most prized possessions.
In addition to the picture sleeve, this record had everything: soaring vocals, a great sing-along melody, space age sound effects, a sense of humor, and a great big bass drum driven beat. Not to mention that super cool picture sleeve. I played this record to death! I guess a lot of other people liked it too, because "The Martian Hop" went all the way to Number Sixteen on the Billboard singles charts in 1963. Not bad for a novelty record about a sock hop on the planet Mars.Eventually, I began to listen to records that had nothing to do with Martians and Frankenstein, and I continued collecting 45s until the format vanished in the late 1980s. I have a cabinet full of those little seven-inch wonders, including some very rare releases and collectible picture sleeves. But none can compare with "The Martian Hop." I still think of it as my first record and my introduction to the worlds of "grown up" popular music and record collecting. Life is always better with a picture sleeve. And that's why I miss those scratchy old 45s.