Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday Audioblogging: Insert Annoying Catchphrase Here

Various Artists: All Ears, ca. 1976/1977, Realistic/Radio Shack. Click for bigger!

Please Note: The recordings reproduced here carry neither a date nor any copyright notices, but were probably copyrighted by the Tandy Corporation. They are presented here as a historical artifact and as part of an activity for learning and discussion.

This record is obviously an example of bandwagon-jumping on perhaps the single most annoying trend of the 1970s: the CB radio craze. If you weren't there at the time, you may be surprised to learn that this downmarket fad, far from being a flash in the pan, lasted an excruciatingly long time, bracketed by CW McCall's release of his hit song "Convoy" in 1975 and the failure of Sam Peckinpaw's too-little-too-late flop movie version (doomed by Ali McGraw's curly perm) in 1978. So, in other words, the CB radio phenomenon was in its highest intensity as a mainstream fad for two solid years of t-shirts, embroidered caps, books, board games, lunch boxes, the worst Hanna-Barbera animated series ever ("CB Bears", I kid you not), and cash-in records like this week's audioblogging selection.

CB-themed board game, Parker Brothers, 1978

Why did it happen? Well, think of the other social-activity-based trends running concurrently: punk rock was underground and too nihilistic and weird for your average American; disco was a little too fey for many, and way too urban, if you know what I mean. The vast rural and middle-American audiences needed a cartoonish fad to call there own, so when McCall's demonically catchy song crossed over to the top-40, it was right on time, replete with its own language, accessories, etc. Add to that the high-tech gadgetry, the radios themselves, and even rich people could get tempted into the act. This was a highly-exploitable fad, and that's why it lasted for over two irritating years.

All Ears was commissioned by the Tandy Corporation from Ironside Productions in Nashville, and it served a threefold purpose: first, it was a cheap cash-in product all its own; second, it served to promote Radio Shack's prodigious offerings of CB radios and accessories, which are pictured on the back:

Click for bigger!

Third, Radio Shack wanted CBs to appeal to everybody, not just rednecks, so the record tried to present a range of music, "Music for every taste -- pop, rock, soul, country," as the cover proclaims. Don't take my word for it, though, listen to side one and hear for yourself:

Shirley and Squirrely: Hey Shirley (3:12, 3.8mb mp3)
Randy Goodrum: Honey Bee (3:12, 3.8mb mp3)
Bob Gelotte: Come On, Come On, CB Baby (2:57, 3.5mb mp3)
Ed Barnet: Everybody's Somebody (In Our CB World) (2:40, 3.1mb mp3)
Johnny Hemphill: Hey Good Buddy (2:41, 3.2mb mp3)

I should warn you that the first track is a "chipmunks" rip-off, so be prepared to hear "squirrels" shrieking CB catchphrases at each other to a backdrop of bad country music.

Enjoy, and older Pony Pals™ should please feel free to share their 1970s CB memories.


PWhit said...

I remember that time well. I always think about that convoy song when I road trip to other states. We used to do a lot of that back then. I tried to get my 5 year old to do the hand motion to get truckers to honk on our last trip but she was too chicken.

Karen Zipdrive said...

"Keep yer shiny side up and yer greasy side down, good buddy."

Civic Center said...

Actually, there was one film masterpiece that came out of that whole fad (and you're right, it didn't feature Ali McGraw's scary smirk). It was a very early Jonathan Demme film that the studios didn't know what to call so it was released under various names such as "Citizens Band" and "Handle With Care." The movie is a strange little screwball comedy set in a small Southwestern town where everybody is connected to everybody else, but they all have wild, alternate, anonymous identities on their radios. Which complicates things. Check it out.

Peteykins said...

Right! I haven't seen it, but I remember reading that a CB radio is briefly glimpsed, thus justifying the title. I've heard it's good.

Christopher1974 said...

Maybe it's because I'm from the midwest, but I think this fad stretched way into the early 80s. Of course, in those later years, even WE thought it was a bit dorky. I remember two neighbors of mine with CBs in their cars. One had his in a Chevrolet Citation. The other neighbor in a GMC Gremlin. Ah yes, good times all around.

Unknown said...

Oh for the love of god.."older" pony pals.. :P

All I know about CB's is that if I spotted the antenna of one, I avoided the hell out of the owner.

Earl Cootie said...

OMG! I miss a few days in Blogtopia, and look what all has happened!

The only CB/trucker-related movie I remember (or don't remember, more accurately) is "White Line Fever" starring the inexplicably popular Jan-Michael Vincent. I have no idea what it was about. Something about falling asleep at the wheel maybe? Drugs? I don't know. It bored the hell out of me is all I remember.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh! I was living in a studio apartment in Campbell, California, right next door to a CB store. I had lots of trouble watching television because everytime some moron with a cb would drive by, he'd see the sign of the CB shop and decide to "10-4 good buddy" whomsoever may have been listening. Unfortunately, it was usually yours truly.

Padre Mickey de Panama

Anonymous said...

"Smokey's takin' pictures on the green stamp end of 895!" I still use my CB all the time. Any chance you'll MP3 side two of the album for us?