2007   MAY 5   #125

The Nordine Groop - Topsy-Turvy House

The Nordine Groop - Topsy-Turvy House (9:54)

I bought this rather battered 16mm film from ebay years ago for $12 and it sat around until I found time to get it transferred onto DVD. Being a Ken Nordine nut I will buy most things with his name on that I don't recognise and I've never seen this on any list or discography before or since. Viewers of the last 365 Days project may remember that I posted a red flexi disc by the Nordine Groop before and here is another production.

A quick recap for those not familiar with Ken Nordine: Being blessed with a voice perfect for radio he worked his way through the 50's as a DJ and voiceover man as well as making several spoken word records reading other people's material. At the end of the 50's and early 60's he did a run of his own records for Dot, premiering his 'Word Jazz' concepts which often lead him to be lumped in with the Beats in spoken word history. These set him up for the next 2 decades and he was hugely in demand in the voiceover industry and eventually set up The Nordine Groop from his Chicago home to produce spots for clients. There are untold Nordine / Nordine Groop productions out there in the ether as a result, most of which were never available to the public as they were inhouse promotional spots, commercials or public service films like this one.

The film is a 10 and a half minute live animation inside a 'Topsy Turvy House'; from the summary on the cannister:
'When tables set the dishes, erasers write, pencils erase and beds make themselves, you're in a topsy turvy house. Incredible, unexpected things happen, accompanied by a narrative rhyme, while key words appear which offer fun filled reading practice and motivation.' © MCMLCCV Coronet Instructional Media, a division of Esquire, Inc.

It's obviously a kids film, primary grade from the info on the label, fairly low budget and similar to something you might have seen in a Sesame Street show. It's fun, with some nice touches like animated wallpaper in one scene but the treat is the soundtrack by The Nordine Groop. The backing track is jangly funky wah wah stuff a la Dennis Coffey with moog and electric piano licks. It revolves around a few riffs that chop and change with each scene, check out the tape pitching up and down when he says 'door', like his voice is being sampled and played up and down the keyboard.

The film was produced for Coronet Films by The Magic Theatre Company (Kier Cline, Horst Rohner and Diane Goodrich) with a script by Mel Waskin. They were based in Chicago so it's not hard to see how Nordine came into the picture, being that he has lived and worked there for decades. All info here is taken from the credits on the film and cannister, so please feel free to fill in any blanks...

- Contributed by: Strictly Kev

Images: Film Case, Film Strip

Media: Film
Label: Coronet Instructional Media
Date: 1975