Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Bad Music: My Son, the Phone Caller (1963) - Sammy Petrillo!


*So, let me just say from the outset that I was unable to find this album.  So, no disappointment as you read this piece and then wonder why I don’t actually talk about the album.

*Seriously, people have dinged me a couple of times during this project for focusing on music that is not great, rather than music that is actually bad.  This is a completely valid criticism.  Let’s recap quickly, shall we?

*My first album was American Pie, a number one album with a rock radio staple that still commands respect from large portions of the populace.  I admitted openly in my review that I actually really liked two or three of the songs on the album and that the album was only occasionally annoying.

*My second album was Days of Future Passed, an album heralded by a generation of rock critics as one of the greatest concept albums ever recorded.  Its current ranking on allrovi is 4 ½ stars.  I talked in my review about the fact that I loathe the album, but seem to be one of the few who actually do. 

*My third review was about Wheels of Fire, an album featuring perhaps the greatest electric guitarist who has ever lived; I spent the entire review talking about what a wonderful album it was. 

*My fourth review was of Escape, which contains the most popular song of the twentieth century, according to iTunes and boasts a 4 ½ star rating on allrovi.  I freely admitted to liking a couple of songs on it and finding the rest mainly just generic and forgettable. 

*So, sure, people are confused.  Anyway, as I’ve said in my first post, I compiled my list of . . . very nearly two hundred albums, by taking several lists I found on the Internet and putting them all together.  These lists were occasionally completely crazy; they range from real obscurities to incredibly popular and acclaimed albums.  It tilts toward a mid-range between those two.

*But I understand the frustration of people coming to this thread for bad music and finding instead . . . generic oldies.  And the occasional legitimate masterpiece.

*I’m working through my list with a randomizer.  So far, random or not, the albums pulled up have been sort of in a piece with each other.  I confess I’ve been disappointed myself with this experience so far.  I didn’t start this project in order to listen to generic and bland MOR album rock.  I started it to listen to legitimately horrifying and awful music. 

*So, anyway, so far on my journey the randomizer has only pulled up one album that I had to skip because I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I’ve decided that now would be a good time to talk briefly about that album. 

*This was actually the first album pulled up by my randomizer.  If this album was actually available, this would have been where we started this entire project, with American Pie being the second review instead of the first.  And that, I think, would have satisfied even those looking for the absolute worst in ‘music.’

Believe it or not, the HIGH point of Sammy Petrillo's career

Believe it or not, the HIGH point of Sammy Petrillo's career

*So, My Son, The Phone Caller is the name of the album and it isn’t really a music album at all.  What it is . . . is the very first prank phone call album.  The artist is Sammy Petrillo and Sammy Petrillo had one claim to fame and one only: his incredible ability to do a Jerry Lewis impression that was somehow even more annoying and less funny than Jerry Lewis himself. 

*Sammy Petrillo's most high profile moment was when he did his best Jerry Lewis opposite . . . someone or other doing their best Dean Martin in a movie called Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla. 

*Petrillo has, in his later life, been quite outspoken about the fact that his career was sabotaged by Jerry Lewis himself; for example, Petrillo says that Lewis would tell clubs that if they allowed Petrillo to play there, that Lewis would see they were blacklisted, ie., Lewis would keep all his celebrity friends from playing or even patronizing the club.  The truth of this is in dispute; regardless, one could well imagine that Lewis wouldn’t be crazy about his schtick being done by someone else.  Most likely, seeing someone else do it made him realize just how incredibly annoying it actually was!

*So, bottom line, back in 1963, Sammy Petrillo went into the studio and cut an album of him prank phone calling people and using his best Jerry Lewis voice to fluster the heck out of them. 

*Can you see why this might be one of the worst albums of all time?  You can?!  So, can I. 

*Anyway, I was unable to find this album.  It has never been re-released in any format after its original vinyl release.  You can find the vinyl album on sale on the net at a very, very few places, but I don’t even have a record player and the prices are generally astronomical, given how rare the record is.

*I even broke down and tried finding a vinyl rip to mp3 that I might illegally download.  I tend to steer clear of illegal downloading or filesharing.  But I went to the line for you guys to try to find this one.  No dice.

*Anyway, I was able to find a track listing; the tracks have names like “The Whip,” “Maternity Ward,” “The Fetishist,” “Singing Telegram,” and, perhaps most terrifying of all, “Donkey Serenade.”

*I did find a very, very brief snippet of the album on YouTube.  This clip is actually of an interview with Petrillo, but at the very end, they play just a short snippet from My Son, The Phone Caller. 

*Did you listen to it?  Did you?  Now, imagine a whole album of that, like thirty to forty minutes of that. 

*Yeah . . . I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t find it.

*Strangely, I really am, a little.  I mean, I got into this for the horror and I have little doubt that this would have been pretty horrific. 

*So, anyway, for now, we’ll let Petrillo’s landmark album fade away, as it seems determined to do.  But for those of you who wonder if I’m actually going to review really bad stuff in this project, hopefully this will reassure you that my list does contain some real nuggets of absolute dreck.  Trust me; this isn’t even the only spoken word album on the list.  I can think of at least three others and, believe it or not, this actually sounds like the most interesting of them!  So, stick with me and we’ll get to some terrible stuff eventually. 

*If I can find them, that is.  Hopefully, the others won’t hide quite as well as this one did.

*All right, next time, it’s back to the arena rock power pop with another iconic band of the eighties.  Will they hold up better or worse than Journey?  Find out next time as I take on REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity!

More Bad Music!