Eddie Murphy’s new movie, Dolemite Is My Name, has stirred a lot of interest in Rudy Ray Moore. It’s a brilliant movie–a well done, loving tribute to a guy who just wouldn’t give up.
I imagine for some viewers Murphy’s film serves as their introduction to Moore, Lady Reed, and maybe even the blaxploitation genre, but my guess is that even more hadn’t heard of party records prior to Dolemite Is My Name. I know it’s hard to imagine a roomful of people listening to an album full of dirty jokes, but party records were very popular in the ’70s and ’80s. I guess one could make a case that novelty songs like Clarence Carter’s “Strokin'” and 2 Live Crew’s “Hey We Want Some Pussy” were musical versions of party records, but that’s an argument for another day.
I was thrilled to see Laff Records get a brief moment in Dolemite Is My Name, as Laff and Dootoo were the kings of the party records. Redd Foxx and Richard and Willie put out quite a few albums on Dootoo, while Laff lays claim to Richard Pryor’s early recordings.
Laff also had the Soul Clowns of Comedy, Skillet & Leroy, a comedy team in the vaudeville tradition of the straight man who sets up the joke and the partner who knocks it down. Their jokes were filthy and their album covers were Bad Album Cover Hall of Fame worthy, all of which adds up to a guaranteed purchase when I find their records in the bins.
Now, if you play a game of Six Degrees of Dolemite, Skillet & Leroy connect many performers. They performed and recorded frequently with Johnny Otis, for example, and both Johnny and his son, Shuggie, recorded with Frank Zappa. Want to connect Dolemite to the Karate Kid? Skillet and Leroy recorded an album with Lawanda Page, Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son, and Pat “Mr. Miyagi” Morita had a recurring role on that show. Heck, so did Skillet and Leroy–they played friends of Fred’s. How about the aforementioned 2 Live Crew? Well, they sampled Skillet and Leroy records, so there’s your connection.
But what’s Skillet and Leroy’s connection to Rudy Ray Moore? You can’t use them in a game of Six Degrees of Dolemite without that, right? Leroy Daniels appears as “Disco M.C.” in Rudy Ray Moore’s 1979 flick Disco Godfather, so there you have it.
These are dollar records, but maybe with the recent interest in party records and awful album covers you’ll find them priced a bit higher these days, I don’t know. All I know is that they’re must-haves in my book. Happy hunting.