The Dr. Demento Show introduced a radio audience to “music” that wasn’t serious and certainly didn’t seem to be looking to go Top 40 on the charts. But for those willing to listen, what got heard was NOT what the mainstream was playing (then or now). Sweet ballads, love songs, dramatic arias, nope, this was raucous fun that at times almost seemed to be someone flipping a switch and deciding they just had to record what was in their head. And what that was didn’t exactly fit i with the norm. But it was always funny and never dull or to be ignored. The songs had unusual titles in some cases too; sometimes obviously a parody of a hit number (“Eat It”) and sometimes not (“Fish Heads”). And sometime it was exactly as the name implied (“It’s A Gas” — extra, extra points if you have the Mad Magazine 45 flexi-disc insert from 40+ years ago). So if you’re holding Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, then you have some idea of what you’re about to be hearing. And if not, boy will you lose that innocence fast.
Presented in the format of a radio program (hosted, obviously by Dr. Demento), the double CD set (plus triple vinyl and digital) includes a booklet filled with crazed images from contemporary artists and liner notes and trivia about the songs as told through those who sung it. These are new “demented” versions by such artists as Fred Schneider (B52s), Joanne Jett, Weird Al, as well as many others including William Shatner and the late, great Adam West. While the press release for all this calls it a celebration of the bizarre, for many it’s a return to when imagination took precedence over digital video — and outrageous humor resulted in side-splitting glee for those able to catch the lyrics, get the references and not be afraid to just laugh out loud. For sure just the cover conveys all that, no added text need be added.
Dr. Demento Covered in Punk features over 30 different and never released covers of what some might call comedy or novelty music and others might call just plain insane. But regardless of the tag stuck on it, it’s plenty fun to listen to. The Dr. has been doing this for nearly 5 decades and has been responsible for “warping” the minds of many an impressionable youth or adult. Which is a good thing.