Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In 1959, as a 16-year-old sophomore, I had my first date with a wonderful girl from my school.

We went to the local drive-in theater. The picture playing, ironically titled “Date Bait,” was one of those low-budget, teen-oriented flicks.

The title song was sung in a rockin' Gene Vincent style. I don't know this singer, but because of the memories associated with it, I would love to have the song. That is if it even came out as a record. I never once heard it on the radio.

While searching for “Date Bait” I learned about a completely different song with the same title, also from 1959. Apparently a hit of sorts, this other one is by Diana Maxwell, and people mistakenly think her's is the one I'm after.

Oh yes, four years after the “Date Bait” date, the girl became by lovely bride, and this year we will celebrate our 48th anniversary.

Time is running out. Help me find the right “Date Bait.”
—Sherman Putterman, St. Paul, Minn.

DEAR SHERMAN: Congratulations! You obviously used the right bait to land the right date. Now let's piece all of this together and come up with your unofficial theme song.

Yes, the movie is titled “Date Bait,” but the title song is “Date Bait Baby” (tagline: “She turned a cool school into a hot-bed of violence”). “Date Bait Baby,” both in the film and on a record (Ray Note 9), is by Reggie Perkins and His Rockin' Maniacs.

The flip side, “High School Caesar” (“He had more rackets than Al Capone”) is another rocker lifted from the “Date Bait” soundtrack. Neither side made any of the national charts.

The tab on just the record can be $150 to $200, but if it comes with the snazzy “Date Bait” (film) picture sleeve, your checkout total can triple.

It may be a bit of a reach, but “Date Bait” is not your only connection to Diane (not Diana) Maxwell. You were 16 in 1959 when Maxwell's only album came out … titled “Almost Seventeen” (Challenge 607).

DEAR JERRY: I collect and am fairly knowledgeable about original cast recordings (I happen to agree with your recent “Maggie Flynn” review), but here's one cast album I have never heard of, and it's not in the “Broadway on Record” book.

I found it listed in a sales catalog, with the peculiar title “Mummenschanz.”

But wait, it gets even weirder.

Under “Contains These Tracks” are these bizarre titles: “Blob”; “Creepy Crawly”; “Worm”; “Green Mouth”; “Six Heads”; “Slinky”; “Frog”; “Insect”; “Rabbit”; “Cat”; “Ape to Man”; “Toilet Paper”; “Gerry Cans”; “Note Pads”; and “Clay Masks.”

What on earth does all of this mean?

They are asking $50 for this LP, and I might buy it just because it is so other worldly, and obviously rare.
—Arnold McFadden, Stamford, Conn.

DEAR ARNOLD: All of your adjectives apply to the 1978 “Mummenschanz” Original Cast Recording, as well as to the show itself. Now here's one of my own: unique. “Mummenschanz” stands alone in every respect, is one-of-a-kind, and has no like or equal.

German for mummery, “Mummenschanz” is simply mime-masque theater (i.e., non-speaking mummers), and those goofy track listings are not songs. Rather, they identify the quirky skits making up a two-act play.

Act One, from “Blob” through “Ape to Man,” is the “Mummenschanz” take on the evolution of life as we know it.

In Act Two, “Toilet Paper” through “Clay Masks,” the mummers humorously explore human relationships.

Since a mime cast neither speaks nor sings, the “Mummenschanz” album contains only the sounds heard in the theater during each of the 15 segments — which is mostly audience laughter and applause.

Not totally unlike the Audio Fidelity sound effects albums, popular in the late 1950s and early '60s, the “Mummenschanz” recording could be used as a handy do-it-yourself laugh track.

IZ ZAT SO? In a little over three years on Broadway (March 1977 - April 1980), “Mummenschanz,” starring Andres Bossard, Floriana Frassetto, and Bernie Schürch, gave 1,326 performances at the Bijou Theatre.

In June 1986, the mime-masque troupe returned to Broadway with their new show, appropriately titled “Mummenschanz: The New Show.”

This time they lasted just four months, and closed after only 152 performances.

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