friends johnny frontThis being Way Out Wednesday, you knew I’d eventually have to wander into teenybopper territory, but I promise I won’t go for the usual suspects.

Friends is a TV tie-in album by Johnny Whitaker, best known for playing Jody on the sitcom Family Affair (1966-’71). After doing guest shots on other shows and a couple of Disney movies, including 1972’s Napoleon and Samantha with Jodie Foster, he landed the role of Johnny (how convenient!) on Sid and Marty Krofft’s Saturday-morning children’s show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-’75). I guess he became a preteen heartthrob, because here he is posing on the Friends album cover almost topless! Anyway, on to the songs …

The first track is one of the themes to Sigmund. If you have any recollection of the show, you can — and will — sing along to this one.

Friends (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters)

Next we have “Alley Oop.” No, wait, I’m sorry — we just have a song that starts off sounding an awful lot like it. “Monster Rock” is a pretty silly song, made even sillier by having Sigmund sound like Boris Karloff with a touch of helium in his voice.

Monster Rock

Of course for any album of this type, you’ve got to have tender love ballads. I picked the following one because I kind of like it, even though the background singers seem to be doing most of the work here.

Can’t Get You Off My Mind

I seem to remember the song “Lovin’ Ain’t Easy” from somewhere other than Sigmund; Whitaker may have sung it on another show. Truth be told, I don’t really remember any of these tracks from Sigmund except for the theme song(s). Here’s a side note: “Lovin’ Ain’t Easy,” like all the other songs on Friends, features Whitaker double-tracked. In other words, he’s singing with himself on each song. I know this practice was often employed with marginal singers to give their voices a bit more depth, but when was it first done? I’m thinking Annette Funicello was the first, but I’m not sure.

Lovin’ Ain’t Easy

Finally, we wrap up with another version of the Sigmund theme. I think they did a different theme song each season, unlike on other Sid and Marty Krofft shows. Maybe the producers really thought they had a singer on their hands, and let’s face it — Whitaker’s no worse than the lot of teen vocalists at that time, and unlike many of them, he even had a bit of a lower range.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

If you’d like to hear the rest of Friends, you can find it here.

And look! Here he is in a live performance at the Hollywood Bowl! You might not think Johnny Whitaker’s that great, but how many performances have you had at the Hollywood Bowl? Hmmmmm…?

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="600" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]