The Ernie Kovacs Recods Collection
Varese Sarabande Records

Everybody knows that Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962) was a pioneer of TV comedy. The Ernie Kovacs Record Collection makes a convincing argument for naming him the Father of Music Video as well.

Music was a large part of Ernie’s life and work, whether he was portraying German DJ Wolfgang Sauerbraten, or performing as part of The Nairobi Trio (one of TV’s most bizarre and beloved bits). Today’s "space age bachelors" may be surprised to learn that Kovacs admired Juan Garcia Esquivel. The Mexican maestro’s arrangements of "Jalousie" and "Sentimental Journey" inspired one of Ernie’s wildest videos: a manic office scene, complete with choreographed pencil sharpener, water cooler and file cabinet.

Ernie’s shows also featured live performances. Among those to grace his stage were piano experimenters Ferrante & Teicher, exotica chanteuse Yma Sumac, and Leona "Music to Suffer By" Anderson - all of whom are featured on the CD.

Kovacs-watchers will be delighted to hear many of the show's staples, including Robert Maxwell’s "Song of the Nairobi Trio," and Wolfgang Neuss’s unforgettably nasal rendition of "Mack the Knife," which accompanied blackout skits. Those who’ve never seen the shows will have the privilege of discovering these gems for the first time.

The collection was produced with the collaboration of Ernie’s widow, Edie Adams, who’s featured in two duets, and was compiled by Irwin Chusid (who also brought us the first Esquivel and Raymond Scott CD reissues - isn’t this guy due for a special Medal of Honor?) The superb packaging was designed and illustrated by master cartoonist/draftsman Chris Ware, who somehow makes it look thoroughly modern, yet rooted in tradition - not unlike Kovacs himself.

The Ernie Kovacs Record Collection is aptly titled. It’s like a visit with a friend who amazes you with one weird and delightful and record after another.