June 20

There are record albums that I desire to own because of their content. There are record albums I desire to own because of their cover art.
There are record albums I desire to own because they’re just plain cool.

This album falls into the third category:

Hairy Jazz – the 1959 musical debut from multi-talented writer/cartoonist/songwriter Shel Silverstein.

This ragtime-y, raucous and bawdy release features the unique vocal stylings of Mr. Silverstein (on the spectrum somewhere between spoken word and raspy holler) backed by the seven piece Red Onion Jazz Band (the majority of whom are either named Steve or Bob).

From the sparse information online and from the liner notes, I’m not sure how many of these songs (music and/or lyrics) were penned by Silverstein, but they all sound as though they could’ve been.

Probably best known for his work as a children’s book author, Silverstein was also a cartoonist/roving correspondent for Playboy and released several other albums of diverse genres… but equally important was his songwriting for many more mainstream musical acts.

The Cover of Rolling Stone, Freakin’ at the Freakers’ Ball and Sylvia’s Mother were all Silverstein hits for Dr. Hook, Put Another Log on the Fire was a hit for Tompaul Glaser, One’s on the Way for Loretta Lynn and A Boy Named Sue for Johnny Cash… all penned by Silverstein.

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