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Robbie the Werewolf: At the Waleback

Track List

>Vampire Man
>Drums and Guns
>My Little Brother
>Frankie-Stein
>That Judge
>Censored Man
>Count Dracula
>Lucifer
>Streets of Transylvania
>Rockin' Werewolf
>Inside Story of Flamenco
>Tip Toe Through the Wolf Bane
>Censored Dooley

Album Notes

In the early '60s, seemingly anyone with an acoustic guitar was trying to launch a career as a folksinger, but Robbie Robison didn't take the ordinary route. Robison, sporting dark red hair and a beard that looked a bit more sinister than the typical beatnik, penned dark-humored folk parodies that often dealt with monsters and ghouls, and sometimes featured risqué humor (well, risqué by 1964 standards). Calling himself Robbie the Werewolf, Robison developed a small but devoted following after landing regular gigs at the Waleback Inn, a coffeehouse in Los Angeles. One night, Robison brought in a recording engineer to commit his show to tape, and he had the results pressed into a limited-edition LP titled At the Waleback (this being the era when comedy albums were often making their way to the upper reaches of the charts). The album eventually gained a cult following among record collectors and fans of curious private-pressed music, especially after Jello Biafra namechecked it in the book Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. 2. (For a while, original pressings of the album were fetching as much as $500.) At the Waleback isn't as funny as one might hope, but this is truly a one-of-a-kind item, and as weird as you would expect. Robison was clearly beholden to the "sick humor" movement of the '50s, and he sings his tales of blood-sucking beasts, hygienically challenged bums, and unneeded censorship with a frothing gusto. As a guitarist, Robison is rudimentary at best, but as a parody of a monster-obsessed folk musician, he gets over, and even if he's not much of a comedian, his performance is strong enough that you're likely to be drawn in even if you're not sure if he's especially good. Anyone who thinks a folksinging blood-drinking werewolf sounds like a great idea is probably going to enjoy At the Waleback, though they probably shouldn't count on too many repeat listens. (Robison later went on to join the psychedelic band Clear Light, proving once again that an awful lot of coffeehouse folkies were secret rockers looking for a way inside the music biz.) ~ Mark Deming



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