I’m not sure if my American regulars are aware of the fact that Californian pop/punk combo The Dickies had a huge hit over here in 1979 with a frantic cover of the theme song from a kids TV show that had aired at the end of the 60s:-

mp3 : The Dickies – Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)

The near 16-year old me hated it, thinking that it was an aptly named bunch who were trying to make a quick buck by making fun of punk/new wave. Thinking back, I had a number of friends at school who were increasingly buying punk/new wave records but none of us had this in our collections. It reached #7 which in 1979, meant it must have sold a couple of hundred thousand copies, but to who?

Years later, I finally found someone who had a copy, and it was one of my student flatmates who was two years younger than me. Now, to be fair to him, he had an incredible record collection for someone so young,and he seemed to have just about every hit single with a punk/new wave edge that had been released since 1977 along with quite a few that were cult classics. He said he had bought the single back in the day simply for the fact that it was fast and furious and sounded as much of a punk record as anything by The Clash or The Sex Pistols or The Damned or anyone else who was being written about in 1979. He also loved the fact its two b-sides were each barely over a minute in length, which meant they could be added to the list of those that could be used at the end of a mixtape rather than have any dead time or silence.

mp3 : The Dickies – Hideous
mp3 : The Dickies – Got It At The Store

I conceded that in terms of the b-sides he had a point in that they could have been by any number of UK bands and were full of energy. But despite his best efforts to convince me of the merits of the a-side, bringing into the I remained a hater. And still am.


4 thoughts on “TRA-LA-LA

  1. I didn’t know about the hit, but I did watch the show way back when.
    Got to agree about the song, proto-pop punk?
    I wonder whether a dub version would be better?

  2. Kind of surprised it was a UK hit, but folks of our vintage will definitely remember the original. Liz Phair covered it, if you want to hear a less frantic version.

  3. Shocked at the lack of love for this perfect object! I was 16 when this came out and had never watched “The Banana Splits,” the original kiddie show of 1969 since I hated children’s shows with people in funny costumes as a six year old. But I recognize genius when I see and hear it!! As soon as I began buying records from mail order catalogs in the mid-80s, this record was among of the first that I immediately bought, as the two Dickies albums on A+M lacked this non-LP single. Goodness, I finally saw The Dickies two years ago and got to try to pogo to this one live. The tempo is too fast to jump on the beat! A textbook example of brilliant stupidity.

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