When I was a small child, in the 1940s, my parents bought me children’s records and I loved them. When I had small children of my own, in the ‘60s, I did the same for them. Most of the records met with indifference. But the records of Jim Copp and Ed Brown became quick favorites. So were the “Dance, Sing and Listen” records of “Miss Nelson and Bruce< [Haack].

I haven’t heard “The Way-Out Record” by Miss Nelson and Bruce, or their “Dance, Sing, and Listen” series, since my kids were small. And I was amused to discover that they have been issued on CD only in Japan. I’ve read somewhere that Bruce Haakc is considered an important pioneer in some kind of electronic music, so it figures.

But last month I was startled to run into “Agnes Mouthwash and Friends,” by Jim and Ed, on a CD at a thrift shop.

My wife and I used to enjoy the Jim Copp and Ed Brown records just as much as our children did. Maybe even more. I remember that they were played frequently, and not just when the kids were listening. Among my own favorites were “The Highway,” a marvelously surreal audio drama, and “Mr. and Mrs. Destitute,” about poor farmers whose refrain ran:

“There isn’t very much to eat.
Tonight let’s cook the mouse.”

Both of these selections are included in “Flibbertigibits on Parade,” Vol. 2 of the Playhouse CD series.

We were obviously not the only family who enjoyed these records. And in recent years, there have been several articles and broadcasts about this duo. There are links to them on the Playhouse Records website. You can even hear some samples of their work, with freshly done animation, on YouTube:

With some trepidation, I played my new copy of “Agnes Mouthwash” for my wife while we were driving in the car. She laughed heartily at most of the material, as I did. There’s something about the combination of home made quality (the originals were all recorded at home) and sophistication that remains fresh and amusing after all these decades.

Ed Brown died in 1978, Jim Copp in 1999. Somebody is continuing with their legacy, though. The Playhouse label CDs recombine material from the individual LPs, which doesn’t matter much, into generous programs. And they are still available. I’m recommending you check out a track or two, even if you don’t have any small children around.

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