From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Gene Farmer, ‘Calypso Gene on the Scene’

 

Comedy albums rarely stand the test of time, and Calypso Gene on the Scene is no exception.

It’s not a bad record, mind you, and as a satirical 1972 year in review it can even be considered something of an historical artifact. There’s even a little fun in the knowledge that “Calypso Gene” was a stage name used by Louis Eugene Walcott prior to reinventing himself as the Nation of  Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan.

But this Calypso Gene was television writer Gene Farmer, whose credits included Laugh-In, The Smothers Brothers, Sanford and Son, Good Times, What’s Happening, That’s My Mama, and Chico and the Man. He had a busy ’70s, in other words, but as that decade came to an end so apparently did Farmer’s television career. He died in 2000, and what he did with the last 20 years of his life remains a mystery to me. Chances are he moved on to a steady job, occasionally pointing out a Good Times rerun that he worked on and maybe busting out the Calypso Gene act now and then for the grandkids. That sounds like a pretty good life to my ear.

As for me, I’m in this for the album cover. I rarely include comedy records in my bad album cover collection, as often they are intentionally bad and there’s no sport in that. Calypso Gene on the Scene, though, is so devoid of production value that I’m tempted to make an exception to my policy. That mysterious third arm has Bad Album Cover Hall of Fame potential, too.

This one is such an oddball that I’m not sure what an appropriate value would be. It’s the kind of record that you find for a buck at a yard sale or a charity shop, or maybe 3-5 dollars in a record store. Happy hunting.

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1 reply »

  1. I used to collect old comedy albums, and back in the 1980s when I was in my twenties, I ran across an album called, “The Integration of Lodi” by Gene Farmer. The same Gene Farmer as this album. The Lodi album was actually pretty funny, and featured comedy songs, including the unforgettable, “My father was like a mother to me.”

    That was pre-internet, and pre-cheap ‘long distance’ (back then it cost something like 25 cents a minute to call ‘long distance,’ which was pretty much anywhere outside of whatever city you lived in). I was curious about Gene Farmer, and got the number for Dore Records in Los Angeles, which had released the album (and the one you have here). One day I called them to ask about whatever happened to Gene Farmer. A friendly gentleman answered the phone and said he had not heard from Gene in years, which sounded surprisingly authoritative. I did not realize it at the time, but I was undoubtedly speaking to “the” Lew Bedell, the founder of Dore Records as well as ERA Records.

    In the early 2000s I researched Gene Farmer again on the internet after his passing, and though I don’t recall the details at this point, I believe he may have gone into teaching college following his entertainment career. From a cursory internet search it appears that both Gene’s widow and children are alive and well today.

    Here’s a little more info on his background for anyone interested:

    https://prabook.com/web/gene.farmer/637209

    Like

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