"Lost" Ernie Kovacs Album Released
Longtime readers of Retro Thing may have picked up on my life-long admiration of Ernie Kovacs, early tv comedy pioneer and genius, no less. Kovacs invented many characters throughout his TV career. One of the most enduring is Percy Dovetonsils, a lithping dandy of a poet who'd bestow his oddball odes on a sometimes bewildered audience.
Percy painted a fine monochromatic picture with his tiger striped smoking jacket and cigarette holder, all while stealing sips from a large martini. Besides the outrageous lisp and wardrobe, it's Percy's eyes folks remember best. What started out as goofy novelty store glasses with painted on half-asleep eyeballs, became just as much a trademark as Percy's self-congratulatory little giggles.
Today it would be easy to point at Percy as being a rather politically incorrect character. Then there are those TV historians who point at Percy as being TVs first openly gay character. The performance is a collection of 50s stereotypes, but charming in a way. I'll leave this issue to the TV historians and sexual revolutionaries to debate. All I know is that Percy is clearly very happy with who he is, bless him.
Percy was one of Kovacs' most popular creations, and Ernie recorded a volume of poems for Vanguard Records back in 1961, along with notes and mockups for the LP's cover. The album never progressed beyond that point, as a tragic auto accident claimed Kovacs not long after. The unreleased album became the thing of rumors and was thought lost forever. Kovacs. We're fortunate that archivist Ben Model discovered the studio tapes recently, and after adding a piano score (Model is an accomplished accompanist for silent movies) the album is available for the first time today!
You can find "Percy Dovetonsils Thpeaks!" on CD, (delicious!) vinyl, or digital download (purchase of either CD or LP also includes full album digital download as well as many extra tracks unavailable anywhere else). I just had to get the LP - the first 1000 are in luscious lavender.
It may have taken decades to dust off the poems within the frilly covers of Percy's collected works, but I daresay it's been worth the wait. Omnivore Records has put together a really classy package. If you use the links below to purchase the CD or LP on Amazon, you'll be helping out Retro Thing as well as showing your love for these thuperb thonnets. Thankth!