NOTE: Yes, I know it’s only Monday, but I spent all morning composing this post instead of catching up on my sleep, so I might want to do that tomorrow. Enjoy your weekly trip down the memory lane of advertising a day early!
Back in the prehistoric era known as the 1980’s, people were much harder to get a hold of than they are now. These days, almost everyone carries a cell phone with them wherever they go… making it much easier to contact people regardless of whether they are home or not, while making it a hell of a lot harder for sitcom writers since the unreachable character was a common plot device. Since common everyday cell technology was still a decade off, the 80’s tried to solve this problem with the answering machine, the ancestor of today’s electronic voicemail. If you weren’t at home, you could turn on your answering machine and let it answer your phone for you, greeting the caller with whatever recorded message you left asking them to leave their name and number, or perhaps just to FOAD…
Were you ever afraid your message might be too mundane or boring for your prospective callers to hear? Did you ever wish you could liven up your message so that people would actually wait until you left the house to call you just so they could listen to your recording? Well, the 80’s had the answer to those prayers too, and if you were one of the cool households who blew a couple hundred bucks on an answering machine back in the post-Bell breakup days, you could really spice up your answering machine message with a little help from a 3 and a half minute cassette tape called “Crazy Calls”.
Seriously, aren’t you glad you were alive for the 80’s? For only about $19.99 plus some standard shipping and handling charge, you could have any one of those side splitting tunes greeting all of the lucky people who rang your number while you were out buying your friends Chia Pets.
But maybe you were too poor to afford an answering machine, or to pay $20 for a 3:30 second cassette tape that wasn’t from Twisted Sister. Well, if you always wondered what those clever little ditties sounded like in all of their glory, then I’ve got a huge treat for you today! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and squirrels, I present to you the complete Crazy Calls cassette for your listening pleasure!
Edit (9/16/16): Video removed from this post at the polite request of Crazy Calls’ creator, who is remarketing the classic answering machine soundtrack.
I’ll give you a minute or two to quit dancing to that kickass track….
Let’s break down the Crazy Calls debut album, shall we?
To use Crazy Calls, simply employ the same technique all of us 80’s children had to use to record a song off the radio. Play the tape in your breakdance era boombox next to your answering machine, and be sure to hit both “record” and “play” at the same time, because it’s the 80’s and we haven’t figured out how to do one touch recording technology yet. I have to admit, this intro shattered a myth I had about Crazy Calls that it was something you popped into an answering machine and it rotated messages as the calls came in. No, you have to pick your favorite of the seven crazy calls and have your machine record it playing off of your radio. Something tells me downloading music off of Napster wasn’t this difficult…
Track 1 – Boogie Woogie (:20)
Ah yes, who doesn’t love The Andrews Sisters? And back in the 80’s, there were still people who were alive when they were last relevant. I gotta admit, this is one of the best 20 second parodies of “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” I have ever heard, and this would absolutely be the crazy call your grandparents would have picked back in 1985 to put on their machine, assuming they had a grandchild available to help them put the crazy call on their answering machine….
Track 2 – Call Me If You Can Can (:20)
Well, if the Boogie Woogie ditty was a little too modern for you, there’s always this relic from the days of Vaudeville that sounds like it was ripped from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. Just in case you want to plead youth and don’t know what can can dancing is, this should give you an idea…
I didn’t think that sounded anything like cancan dancing music, but when I went to YouTube and typed “cancan music” into the search box, this is what came up. Offenbach’s piece if clearly what this crazy call was inspired by, they just didn’t use the more familiar part that appeared in all those cartoons we watched as kids.
Track 3 – The Answering Machine Zone (:28)
While Rod Serling and singing do not go together, his famous introduction to The Twilight Zone has been parodied in just about every way imaginable, so why not for an answering machine message as well? I can think of two episodes of The Twilight Zone that centered around telephones, and both of them are as creepy as hell since they involved speaking to dead people.
Track 4 – 50’s (:29)
The Crazy Calls naming department worked overtime on coming up with a title for this doo wop ditty. This was the one that would play over the ordering information at the end of the commercial, and that ending was one of the tunes that stuck in my head for over 25 years. It’s such a wonderful flashback to the early days of rock and roll, that you’d swear it was being crooned by Marvin Berry and the Starlighters.
Track 5 – Bogie (:20)
Also known as the lost track of the Crazy Calls cassette! Yes, this was the only recording that they didn’t play during the commercial, and nobody who didn’t order the damn thing would have had any idea it even existed! Kind of like none of the kids from today even know Humphrey Bogart ever existed. Hearing this rarely played cut makes me want to break out the old Bertie Higgins 45….
Track 6 – The Rap (:25)
Also known as…. the best fucking recording of anything that ever created sound waves. Seriously, who doesn’t like old school rap? Especially compared to some of that garbage that passes as hip hop these days. Kanye, Ludicrous Speed, Lil Wayne, Lil Jon, Lil Dick…. none of them can touch the def boyz from with the chainz from the 80’s!
Track 7 – Beethoven’s Fifth (:25)
When Chuck Berry first advised Beethoven to roll over, you can rest assured ol’ Ludwig hadn’t heard the greatest atrocity ever to occur to his music yet. And keep in mind, just a decade earlier, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony had been turned into a freaking disco song! So Crazy Calls really upped the ante on how to desecrate a musical classic (and hey, I love disco!)
So if you liked what you heard today, be sure to hit those thrift stores, rummage sales or your parents’ attic, and maybe you too could own your very own copy of that 80’s classic Crazy Calls! We here at The Nest salute its contribution to the cheesy earworm Hall of Fame, and for coming up with the greatest short feature rap song in the history of beatboxes and gold chains.
Damn! I gotta hear that one again. Hit it, boys!