Way Out Wednesday: Shirley, Squirrely & Melvin, “Live”

Written by Music, Way Out Wednesday

What’s worse than those little idiots Alvin, Simon, and Theodore? How about ripoff singing chipmunks named Shirley, Squirrely, and Melvin? It’s just another week for Tony Redman and Way Out Wednesday!

ssmlive frontHere’s another example of singing groups in the Squeaky Rodent Department: Shirley, Squirrely & Melvin. Their album Live has an interesting history (at least according to Wikipedia): In 1980 Excelsior Records released Chipmunk Punk, a new album featuring the Chipmunks put together by David Seville’s son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. The album turned out to be an unexpected success, so Bagdasarian recorded a follow-up, Urban Chipmunk — for RCA Records. This left Excelsior holding the bag, so they supposedly took outtakes from Urban Chipmunk and an earlier Shirley & Squirrely album and came up with Live. I don’t know if I believe that story, but it’s on Wikipedia, so it must be true!

The first song we’ll feature here is the Sam & Dave/Blues Brothers classic “Soul Man.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song pushed so hard when it’s sung. Apparently, Squirrely thinks “soul” translates to “Sing like you’re constipated.”

Soul Man

Next, SS&M reveal their country side with “The Gambler,” an odd pick since Alvin, Simon, and Theodore covered the same song on Urban Chipmunk, although they changed a few words — “soda” instead of “whiskey,” and instead of bumming a cigarette, the gambler “asked for a Twinkie, and offered me a bite.” I guess SS&M get extra points for performing the song as written. Their version also features special guest star Denny Richards. (Never heard of him. Have you?)

The Gambler

Continuing in a country vein, we have the classic “Mercedes Benz.” This one was a little tricky since the song is sung a cappella, but the rodents actually do a pretty good job here.

Mercedes Benz

Here’s an original song: “I Like Reggae Too.” Was reggae making that big of a comeback in 1981? The song is also notable for name-checking the Rolling Stones, Blondie, and the Beatles.

I Like Reggae Too

And finally, speaking of the Beatles, here’s “Get Back,” a song that missed out on being included in the Beatles covers compilation at Popdose a few weeks ago. (Somehow I don’t think any of you missed it!)

Get Back

And as always, if you want to hear the entire album, you can find it here!

As you may have gathered from the title, it’s a live album. Okay, so the “live” element is just applause and audience noise added to the mix in the studio, because you can’t stage a live rock concert with musicians in animal costumes. Or can you? Tune in next week for another Way Out Wednesday and find out!