I thought I’d have a little word fun this week using Blue Note album titles. From the 1500 series through the 4000 series, Blue Note released 18 records the titles of which are puns based on the artists’ first or last names. I define a “punny” album title as one which uses the artist’s name, in a play on words, to refer to a phrase or expression. Some of these work better than others.
Frankly, most of the titles are not great. But the better ones use language in a sensible—if sometimes obvious or boring—way (e.g., The Real McCoy, Byrd in Flight, Shades of Redd, etc.).
In the…er, lamest….examples, I’ve noticed (maybe you have, as well?) that the title sounds as though it had been created by an ad agency that knew nothing about the music or the artist, and the “creativity” ended with the still-born pun. So today, I am proud to offer the 5 worst of these crimes against word play.
1. Cliff Craft (Cliff Jordan, 1957, BLP 1582)
Cunningham: Say, what should we call this great new record by our up-and-coming young tenor man?
Henderson: Well, my father-in-law just bought a Chris-Craft boat!
Cunningham: Meeting adjourned!
2. Davis Cup (Walter Davis, Jr., 1960, BLP 4018)
H: Let’s brainstorm. Hard bop. Blues. Latin. Improvis-
C: I’ve got it, Henderson! This music reminds me of tennis!
3. Whims of Chambers (Paul Chambers, 1956, BLP 1534)
C: Do you think anyone will make the connection, Henderson?
H: You mean with “winds of change”? Isn’t it pretty obvious?
C: Yes, I don’t know why I doubted you.
H: Why, I oughtta…
4. Flight to Jordan (Cliff Jordan, 1960, BLP 4046)
H: Cunningham, old boy, we had such success with our last Cliff Jordan title, why don’t we…
C: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
H: Yes! His last name is also a…
5. Hub Cap (Freddie Hubbard, 1961, BLP 4073)
H: Cunningham, how would you describe this new trumpet sensation’s style?
C: Oh, Henderson, you know I don’t listen to this drivel.
H: Well, it says here in DownBeat that he is fast and fleet-fingered, so let’s…
C: …think of an object that’s big and heavy that doesn’t evoke speed and agility in any way?
H: You’ve read my mind again.
Are there any that you think are more perfunctory than these? What about lame titles from other labels? Let me know below