If I had to describe the seventies in one word, I’d use shipwreck. You’re stranded on a rocky shore, no hope of rescue, and forced to make a tree-fort life out of the flotsam and jetsam of art, and commerce, and music, and everything else.
Some people embraced the suck of the seventies, and brightened it up. The Jimmy Castor bunch was an example. It was pretty silly stuff, overall, but in general, people enjoy silly diversions most when times are really hard. People mostly get their jollies from doom porn feeds on social media now. That’s how you can tell all their troubles are self-inflicted. If your life really sucked, you’d buy Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show albums and try to get through it without losing your marbles.
They say Jimmy Castor is the most sampled artist ever. That’s a polite way of saying everyone stole everything from him without paying. There are about a dozen seventies catch-phrases mixed in there, and every one made it into Gerry Ford’s prison population, also known as the AM radio audience. And it’s backed with a stone cold groove, the only product that the seventies could churn out better than any other time period. Groovemasters were thick on the ground then, I tell you what. War heaved Eric Burdon over the side and kept the groove. James Brown was still able to split his pants back then. The Ohio Players were wearing halter tops and laying it down. Hell, I used to go to a bar and see a band called the Groovemasters in Providence back then, who stapled grooves onto regular pop songs. The groove was king.
Unlike most novelty acts, Jimmy Castor could play it straight if he wanted to. Bertha Butt might appear on Dr. Demento right after Roly Poly Fish Heads, but the the dude could entertain you without a squeak nose. He couldn’t help himself, though, and even made cover selections into a kind of incongruity contest:
Jimmy Castor died about ten years ago. Rest in peace, funk soul brother. Irish people say no one really dies until no one speaks your name anymore. Jimmy Castor can never die, as long as Bertha Butt walks the earth.