Book Review: Rock & Roll Books
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
Everything's Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicalsby Steve Young and Sport Murphy
Blast Books, 252 pp., $39.95
One of the stranger manifestations of postwar American prosperity was the industrial musical. Staged during sales conventions to build morale, reinforce product messaging, and keep liquored-up Willy Loman types away from strip joints, corporations paid for elaborate musical productions written by genuine Broadway veterans and starring name actors like Hal Linden and Florence Henderson. Eventually, recordings of these shows found their way to garage sales and secondhand stores, where they were snapped up by enthusiasts like Late Show With David Letterman writer Young and onetime Kill Rock Stars artist Murphy. Profits pokes fun in all the right places, guffawing at shoehorned homages to sheet vinyl, surgical gowns, and birth control pills: "Though a married female's problems may be myriad/Thanks to us she can usually expect her period!" Jaw-dropping sidebars find connections to industrial music in everything from Leontovych's "Shchedryk" to Chilliwack's "My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)." Meanwhile, the authors pay respect to genre standouts like American Standard's The Bathrooms Are Coming! and General Electric's Got to Investigate Silicones. With industrial musicals gone the way of gold watches, this handsome volume shores up their legacy.