R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders

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R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders recorded a series of three albums in the 70′s but don’t let the date of release fool you.  If you listen to their music you’ll find absolutely no indication that it is from the seventies mainly because (for those that don’t know) the US was in the midst of a folk revival in the seventies.   No doubt started at least partially by the popularity of acts like James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel.   All sorts of music from earlier in the century was being dug up and presented in all different ways.  I’ve heard it said that we are in another folk revival at present.  I certainly hope so if more bands like this come out of it.

To be honest I’m not even sure what you’d classify this band’s music.  From a sheet music stand point I guess you’d classify these tunes as “early novelty” but the music as played? It’s like a mix between dixieland, klezmer, Hawaiian, old time, 20′s jazz, whatever it is it’s fantastic.  There’s lots of ukulele, mandolin, tuba, squeezebox, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, banjo, bass fiddle, a little something for everyone.  This cocktail of styles and instruments alone would make for some interesting music but then there are personalities involved.  Quirky lyrics delivered in a goofy tongue in cheek style.  You could picture all these songs being played by a bunch of piss drunk old men sitting on the front porch during a quiet summer evening, dogs barking in the back ground, the wind blowing slightly, their wives half proud but half embarrassed holed up inside gossiping and cleaning up the table.  You know what I mean.

The R. Crumb in this band is one in the same as the cartoonist made popular in the 60′s/70′s.  There’s a few movies about him a very interesting and humorous fellow.  If you’ve seen any of his films you’d know this music fits his personality perfectly.  A good number of the musicians switch around from album to album but the core of the group seemed to have been Robert Crumb, Robert Armstrong and Allan Dodge.  Those must have been some hilarious recording sessions.  They even released a few singles on obsolete 78 albums as a spoof.  It’s my understanding that the band is still around and still playing (sans Robert Crumb, he relocated to France).  Unfortunately they haven’t released any more albums.   All we have to remember them by are three impeccable thirty plus year old recordings.  Give them a listen if you get a chance!

Here’s R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders main release info.  I haven’t actually heard the first album so I can’t speak directly for it but if the later two are any indication I’m sure it’s fantastic.  As far as I know the first album is only available from a Japanese label and their website is all fudged up.  Someone please find me a copy!

1) S/T (1974)
2) Chasin’ Rainbows (1976)
3) Singing in the Bathtub (1978)

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