2007   FEBRUARY 17   #048

Happy Monsters - Clap Your Tentacles

Happy Monsters - Clap Your Tentacles (2:46)

This record intrigued me from the moment I heard it used as an intro to a mix by DJ and producer Mark Pritchard (also known as Harmonic 33). Though Mark had helpfully given the shortened LP title, the record slipped my mind until a few months ago when I was rummaging for a basement bargain in the Music and Video Exchange (well-known chain of second-hand shops in London). As soon as I saw ‘Oooog’ written on the front cover, I knew this was the record I’d heard on the mix. Bargain found.

‘Happy Monsters’ is split into two parts. Side A is a children’s story: Bobby and Betty’s adventures in the land of Oooog. The most interesting parts are when the monsters talk to the children, producing some top musique concrète sounds as well as horrible klaxons and squeaks.

Despite the possible samples, it’s Side B that really attracts. There are cover versions of the classic tunes Kiss me goodnight, Papa’s got a brand new bag and CC Rider, amongst others. Papa has become Clap your tentacles and in my opinion is the best thing about this record. A faithful cover version of the Godfather himself, nice and raw with decent production. However, the Happy Monsters appear to be on lead vocals: Klaxons, bells, squeaks and parps are strewn all over the top of the final mix, making the whole thing rather comical. The same technique has been applied to the same version of the track on Bobby and Betty go to the moon (another release on the Happy House label) but with spacey sounds instead. Indeed, the actors on Side A are the same as on Bobby and Betty.

With a little bit of research, mainly from the excellent Vinyl Vulture forum, we find that the music on this record comes from The Soul Symphony’s Symphony of Soul LP on the Stereo Gold label. The musicians who added the crazy extras on Happy Monsters thankfully remain anonymous. Stereo Gold was the brainchild of Leo Muller (also known as David Miller), an easy listening entrepreneur. He formed a company called Damil in the early 70s and it was this company that was behind Happy House records.

It seems that Leo Muller was a bit of a scammer, a fact reinforced by the same tracks featuring on two different children’s records and these tracks having been taken from an earlier release. I wonder what the outcome might have been if Happy House had put a bit more effort into writing some original pieces in line with the Happy Monsters theme. Actually, let’s not dwell on that too long – it would probably have been horrible. At least we have Papa’s got a brand new tentacle as Otis put it.

- Contributed by: Tom Miller

Images: Front Cover, Back Cover

Media: 12" LP
Album: Happy Monsters, Funny songs, sounds and stories about a pleasant adventure into the impossible land of Ooog!
Label: Happy House Records
Catalog: HH-502 C-36-A/B
Credits: Copyright Damil Productions