Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Families - political comedy albums part 1

In an older post, I've shown some of the TV-related vinyl LP records I've collected.  Now here's another LP collection that's even more unique.  Here in the Washington, DC, area, politics is unavoidable.  And with politics comes political satire.  Here are a few albums that have poked fun at occupants of the White House over the years.

This is probably the most commonly found First Family comedy album, produced by Bob Booker and Earle Doud during the Kennedy administration.  Kennedy's voice is done by Vaughn Meader. This album sold around 7 million copies and earned a Grammy as album of the year for 1963.  It was followed by a Volume Two version, which I do not have.  The cover for that second album used the image above but reduced it in size and the rest of the space was a very wide white border around the centered image.  The second version and the first album were both pulled off the market after the Kennedy assassination in November 1963.  Kennedy spawned a large number of comedy and serious records during and after his presidency, and I'll cover more on that topic in a future post.

This next album is a lot less common than the original First Family record.  'The New First Family, 1968, A Futuristic Fairy Tale', was produced by Bob Booker for Verve.  The focus here is on popular celebrities of the time, many of whom got involved in endorsing presidential candidates.  It's a lot less common than the First Family record.  This is the only one I've ever run across. If the art looks somehow familiar, it's probably because the artist is Mort Drucker.  He was a prolific album cover artist, but a lot of his work also appeared over the years in MAD magazine.  Voices on this album included impressions by two of the era's more successful presidential impressionists, John Byner, who did Lyndon Johnson, and David Frye, who did Richard Nixon.  Frye just passed away within the last week.  I'll have more albums by Frye in a future post of Nixon-related albums.

During the Jimmy Carter presidency, the first family format got a freshening.  On the album 'The Washington Hillbillies', Carter, his brother Billy, and their grandmother Lillian provided plenty of comedic opportunities. If you get around to antique malls much like I do, you still see unopened six packs of Billy Beer.  For the younger crowd, do a Google search on Billy Carter and you can get some idea of the color he brought to the White House in the late 1970s.  Although the cover art looks a lot like the first family albums, Booker and Doud do not appear in the credits so I'm guessing they had no involvement in this record.

Following Carter, the Reagan presidency once again lent itself to lampooning, and we got another first family comedy album, again from Earl Doud.  Celebrity impersonator Rich Little appears on this 1981 album, along with Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame, and Vaughn Meader, who was on the original album.

These last two albums were produced during the Kennedy years.  Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev got the comedy treatment in both records, which seem to be pretty rare.  'The Other Family' included impressions by Marty Brill and Larry Foster.

'At Home with The Other Family' featured voices by George Segal, Joan Rivers, and Buck Henry.

I still keep an eye out for more of these political comedy records and I have stumbled across some good ones over the years.  If you ask what they're like to listen to, I can't answer.  I'm still searching for a nice vintage console stereo to use to play the old records in my collection.

Still to come, a post on LBJ-related records, Nixon, and some others from the 1960s and 70s.


  1. How funny, never heard of these before.

    My folks lived and worked (for... Surprise, the Government) in D.C. for a while, back in the day. =)

    BTW, I still see that eBay auction for that futuristic stereo (it was around $1,000-$1,500 wasn't it?) you featured on your blog a while back. Guess he or she is never going to lower the price!

  2. Yes, I keep an eye on that particular eBay item. You see some truly ridiculous 'values' put on stuff. The seller probably picked it up for $20. Why not price it to sell and still make a great profit?