This being Way Out Wednesday, you knew IÁ¢€â„¢d eventually have to wander into teenybopper territory, but I promise I wonÁ¢€â„¢t go for the usual suspects.
Friends is a TV tie-in album by Johnny Whitaker, best known for playing Jody on the sitcomÁ‚ Family Affair (1966-’71).Á‚ After doing guest shots on other shows and a couple of Disney movies, including 1972’sÁ‚ Napoleon and Samantha with Jodie Foster, he landed the role of Johnny (how convenient!) on Sid and Marty Krofft’s Saturday-morning children’s showÁ‚ Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-’75).Á‚ 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 Á¢€Å“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.
Of course for any album of this type, youÁ¢€â„¢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.
I seem to remember the song Á¢€Å“LovinÁ¢€â„¢ AinÁ¢€â„¢t Easy” from somewhere other than Sigmund; Whitaker may have sung it on another show. Truth be told, I donÁ¢€â„¢t really remember any of these tracks fromÁ‚ Sigmund except for the theme song(s). HereÁ¢€â„¢s a side note: “Lovin’ Ain’t Easy,” like all the other songs on Friends, features Whitaker double-tracked. In other words, heÁ¢€â„¢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? IÁ¢€â„¢m thinking Annette Funicello was the first, but IÁ¢€â„¢m not sure.
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 letÁ¢€â„¢s face it — WhitakerÁ¢€â„¢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.
If youÁ¢€â„¢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…?
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