Wednesday, July 6, 2016
SHG: Johnny Maddox: "The Crazy Otto"
Johnny Maddox & the Rhythm Masters: “The Crazy Otto”
Entered the chart on: 2/5/1955
Peaked on: 3/19/1955
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Sincerely” by the McGuire Sisters
“Sincerely” looks unstoppable. To date, this is the third song stalled by the McGuire Sisters’ long stay at #1. For all that, I had to go out of my way to refresh my memory of it. I’d never have heard it at all had I not seen Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, in which the song is a plot point.
I like to put songs I review into some kind of context, but this is just baffling. On the face of it, we have Maddox banging on a woefully out-of-tune upright piano backed by his combo, playing a medley of old saloon-type tunes popularized by Fritz “Crazy Otto” Schulz-Reichel. Why? Had Crazy Otto died recently? No, he was still very much alive and churning out popular albums (he had a #1 album on the charts when this was released).
As near as I can guess, they were just doing what the “whitewashers” were doing, capitalizing on someone else’s success by cashing in with a quickie sound-alike release.
I don’t know, if you’re not allergic to off-key piano playing, this is not bad. Kind of fun in a nostalgic kind of way. We’re looking through two layers of nostalgia with this, as they were already evoking another time and place with this recording. Sounds like something that would be played in an old Straw Hat Pizza, or the like.
I kind of want to put it on at one of those internet jukeboxes at a latter-day pizza place, just to see what peoples’ reactions would be.