The Best of Jim Copp & Ed Brown - 2 Volumes
Playhouse Records

The late Jim Copp was an American original -- writer, musician, performer, and entrepreneur. Following brief careers as a nightclub entertainer ("James Copp And His Things" shared billing with such jazz greats as Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday) and a society columnist for the LA Times, young Copp began making wire recordings of his original songs and stories. He sent one of these demos to Capitol Records, who weren't interested Copp as a performer, but had Jerry Lewis record one of his pieces ("The Noisy Eater").

Copp was dissatisfied with the result (and the measly royalties he received) and decided to try and make his own records. Armed with three Ampex tape decks, an arsenal of musical instruments, and a limitless imagination, Copp performed the voices, sound effects and music with the help of his friend Ed Brown, and taught himself to make multi-layered recordings. Each year the two pals would travel the country selling LPs from teh back of their car to department stores and toy shops. Copp & Brown eventually released nine LPs on their own label, Playhouse Records.

Matt Groening has said that he intended The Simpsons to be a program that "rewards you for paying attention." The same could be said of Copp's records. You have to listen to them many times to catch all of the jokes and amusing turns of phrase. Copp never shied away from using big words that might have listeners reaching for the dictionary, either. His music is weird and intense, yet eminently hummable. Populated by a crew of lunatic characters (from shrill teachers to talking bottles), the stories are literate, witty, sometimes dark, never condescending, and they don't pretend to be anything other than entertaining fun.

This pair of discs, although filled to the digital limit at over 70 minutes each, leave the listener wanting even more of Copp & Brown's marvelous recordings "for small fry and sophisticated adults." Fortunately all nine original albums are available on cassette, and a few LPs may still be around.

Their bizarre road-trip epic "A Journey to San Francisco with The Glups," is also available on CD.