2007   AUGUST 7   #219

Kenny Meyer - Purple / 'Scuse Me Sassoon

Kenny Meyer - Purple (3:31)
Kenny Meyer - 'Scuse Me Sassoon (2:50)

Knowing my affinity for weird kid material, one of my good friends found this for me in a used record store in Boston. Not only is it a terrific, totally off-kilter record sung by a clearly untrained eleven-year-old, but my particular copy also contained a fun archival bonus, tucked into the sleeve: a promotional note intended for a local Chicago Sun-Times journalist who had requested his own review copy.

The letter, cleverly typed on purple paper, is itself an excellent early-80s artifact. In it, Ann M. Thomas (Kenny's manager and mentor) laments the failed popularity of the "cassingle," as well as the unfortunate, prohibitive fact that "the big recording companies are so leery of new talent in these economic times." Hence, Kenny Meyer is on a small, self-publishing label (Ms. Thomas' Sliver Productions), rather than, say, Atlantic.

Then there are the tunes. First up is "Purple," a kidhood masterwork of considerable weirdness. Little Mr. Meyer is from the "food as art" school of thought and postures that stains make the man; jelly drips and "a great big grape mustache" are, dontchaknow, the signature assets of a stylish juvenile. Although the lyrics are silly and cheerful, the production is surprisingly restrained. I can't quite place it, but while "Purple" is catchy, it's just a little...off. Which, of course, makes for a great listen.

In the B-side "'Scuse Me Sassoon," we learn more of the youth's wise and wily ways. Kenny's just a regular guy who digs looking good, but don't make assumptions -- he's no label whore. He defiantly snips the tags on his designer clothes so he can rock his threads without sacrificing his soul for "the man." ("No Calvin Klein is gonna brand [his] behind," ya hear?)

""'Scuse Me Sassoon" is more immediately poppy than "Purple," but it's still plenty strange. The production choices here really make the track. In between the repeated lines of the chorus are these bizarre little breaks that sound like a bunch of Plymptoons voice-overs -- some random dandy pops in to utter "Gag me with a spoon," and I think there's a French chick in there, too, among other assorted vocal characters.

Any searches for these songs and Kenny Meyer turned up totally empty. Hopefully Kenny and Ann are doing well and look back fondly at this brief, naive entry into childhood pop. I'll certainly think of Kenny the next time I make smelly bubbles (from the "grape gum-candy store," natch) or slip into a pair of swan-emblazoned Vanderbilts.

- Contributed by: Allison Tanenhaus

Images: Front cover, back cover, purple promotional letter

Media: 45rpm 7" Single
Album: Purple and 'Scuse Me Sassoon
Label: Sliver Productions
Catalog: SP#799118
Credits: Purple - Written by Ann M. Thomas, Vocals by Kenny Meyer, Arrangement and Keyboard by Duane Thamm, Jr. / 'Scuse Me Sassoon - Written by Ann M. Thomas, Vocals by Kenny Meyer, Arrangement by Paul Kelly, Keyboard by Duane Thamm, Jr., Percussion by Don Pokorny, and Bass by Roy Boccheri. Produced for Sliver Productions by Paul Kelly, Sound Engineer: Brian Basilico.
Date: 1982