You might call Neil Hamburger an anti-comedian. He’s a stand-up version of Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton character, a conceptual performance art project that’s funny by being pointedly not funny—by being bad, in fact. Hamburger’s routine is made up of bad jokes, a bad combover, a cheap, sweat-stained tux, and the awful, phlegm-soaked sound he makes clearing his throat.
Love Got in My Way (Eabla Records, 2008)
This man, Joe E., was a Florida construction worker who in 1975 recorded this album of mournful pop ballads, with titles such as “A Table for Two for One.” Unfortunately, the company that released it scammed him out of a substantial amount of money, and the album never had a chance. Thirty-five years later, this haunting masterpiece of relationships gone wrong has been given a deluxe CD reissue, and a chance to be ignored completely by a whole new generation. Please do not let this happen!
Frank Sinatra Jr.
That Face! (Rhino, 2006)
The great Frank Sinatra Jr. has long been my idol, and it felt like a miracle when this new album appeared after a drought of many, many years. “The People You Never Get to Love” is the show-stopper, a song about the sorts of lost opportunities that plague those of us who do not always win in life.
An Album of Distinction (Comedy Central Recordings, 2009)
This brand-new album by a one-man act that I frequently tour with has proven itself to be the funniest album of the last year. Here he presents a couple dozen television themes to TV programs that sadly do not exist, such as the peculiar cop duo show Dumpster and Mahoney or the monster truck/smooth-jazz amalgamation Jazz Bot Xtreme.
Heartfelt (self-released, available through Eabla Records, 2009)
Tony Mason-Cox was an elderly singing insurance salesman from Sans Souci, Australia, who passed away recently, leaving behind a trio of truly astonishing releases. Mason-Cox possessed a multi-octave range, and sometimes his voice seems to hit upon notes that have not yet been officially documented, for better or for worse. He believed himself to be a reincarnated American slave from the 1800s and many of his original songs reflect those “experiences.” What a showman! What a voice! What an album! Key tracks: “I’m Just Ordinary,” “The Drunk,” “Alabamy Jail.”