Friday, 17 November 2017

Kermit the Frogg

Even though it was from the same stable that had produced the successful Sesame Street, the Muppet Show failed to spark in the States, and it wasn’t until ATV’s Lew Grade picked it up that it became a hit. The show debuted in the UK in September 1976, and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Animal and their friends were soon charming British audiences of all ages.

Riding the back of the Muppet craze, Puppet Love by the Froggs was issued in May 1977. A comedy record that isn’t funny - as far as I can make out, the ‘joke’ is that the Muppets get shot one by one until there’s no one left to finish the song – and copying the well-known Muppets theme tune but making ‘just’ different enough to avoid any claims of plagiarism, it’s a hideous mess. A parody of a parody, and the irony of that seems lost on all involved.

Written and produced by Keith Bonsoir, who also produced (and added backing vocals and keyboards to) the Pinkees recordings, the flip side is the throwaway instrumental Wheeling, included here for completists. Promo copies were issued with ‘this is not a Muppett record’ [sic] stamped on the cover. Sadly the copy I picked up for a quid in Bristol’s Wanted Records this week is lacking that particular detail. I have yet to discover who is playing on the disc, but best guess would be that piano and vocals are handled by Monsieur Bonsoir himself.

The disc was issued on the short-lived Paladin label, which appears to have been connected in some way to singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur, television and radio presenter and sex criminal Jonathan King: King issued a disc on Paladin (under the pseudonym The Joker), and Bonsoir, who wrote and/or produced a number of tracks for Paladin, had also worked on productions at UK, King’s own label. Paladin existed for less than a year (September 1976-June 1977), but Keith Bonsoir had been making records since the early 70s, and had also worked with John Holt, Geno Washington and cruise ship singer turned actress Sally Sagoe, who appeared in EastEnders for a couple of years in the mid 80s. He had a fair bit of success in Europe, with pop-disco acts including the Bear Brothers, and was also the voice of Alphonse the Horse, a kid’s cartoon/book/record franchise which never quite took off.

After Paladin Bonsoir went to Creole Records, where he produced The Pinkees and 53rd and 3rd among others. The latter act had scored a hit with King and the song Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes Love It) in 1975 and issued at least three 45s on UK. I, like many I would assume, had thought that 53rd and 3rd was just another King pseudonym, but apparently not. King also recorded for Creole, issuing the dreadful God Save The Sex Pistols under the alias Elizabeth, (and impersonating Queen Liz). Prince Charles, apparently, asked for six copies of the disc to be sent to Buckingham Palace. King is due back in court to answer charges of historic sexual abuse in June 2018, but sadly I have been unable to discover the current whereabouts of Mr Bonsoir.


Download Puppet HERE

Download Wheeling HERE

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