Miscellaneous Playlists

Reel-to-Reel Presents: “Animal House”

The Best 7 Years of Your Life

So, 7 years of college down the drain…what now? Might as well join The Peace Corps.

Big, bawdy, raunchy, ribald, and surprisingly heartfelt, 1978’s “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” or simply just “Animal House” brings us back to the deceptively simple year of 1962.

Written by Harold Ramis (amongst others) and directed by John Landis, the film follows the hedonistic, and namely animalistic Delta Tau Chi house in a bid to save their rowdy spot on fraternity row.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” Trailer (1978) from YouTube.

The mad love-child between the National Lampoon crew and The Second City, “Animal House” is a prime showcase of their whip-smart writing: cheerfully lampooning – pun intended – society with a smug, self-aware grin.

But if you can’t beat them, join them…and sure as hell, get a laugh out of them while you do.

As such, the Deltas are holding the line against civilized man, reveling in the lewd and lascivious with boyish glee.

For fans of offbeat, off-color, and just plain odd films, the cast list reads like a “Where’s Waldo” of weirdos and 80s comedy “that guys” with appearances from Kevin Bacon and Donald Sutherland for some class.

Best – or worst – of them all is John “Bluto” Blutarsky as played by John Belushi.

A largely silent role, Bluto frees Belushi into a Looney Tunes-esque plane of existence, charging his way through scenes with a freewheeling, chaotic energy.

A largely silent role, Bluto frees Belushi into a Looney Tunes-esque plane of existence, charging his way through scenes with a freewheeling, chaotic energy.

Let the Good Times Roll

Musically, the soundtrack taps into that raucous energy with the doo wop and early soul that at one point was much cooler than your granny’s golden oldies. 

With DeWayne Jessie’s turn as Otis Day alongside backing band, The Knights, “Animal House” pulls from real college rock history with the power of the party band. 

If you were a young kid with a band and you wanted a happy crowd that would pay in booze and/or bucks, the Frat house is where you go.

If you were still riding the waves of the underground, but you could swing hard enough to fill up a dancefloor, you too would end up in the hallowed halls of Fraternity row.

But not to fret, some of the most influential rock and roll acts found themselves playing to seas of drunken college kids.

Heavyweights like Chuck Berry, The Isley Brothers, The Drifters and Bo Diddley were able to reach white audiences during segregation by taking little gigs at schools across the country.

Bodhi’s Best

As such, I’ve created my very own late 50s – early 60s swinging, setlist for your listening enjoyment.

“Uptown” – The Crystals

“Uptown” by The Crystals from YouTube.

Out of all the Phil Spector style girl groups, The Crystals have to be my favorite.

Where Ronnie Spector had her killer growl and gave the Ronettes a rock’n’roll bite that would’ve made more sense for “Animal House,” I always loved the sweetness that The Crystal’s had.

Especially, the early tracks with Barbara Alston, who sang with such a no-frills purity.

Beyond The Crystals, I am a sucker for any early 60s pop with even the smallest hint of Latin flair.

With a track like this, I’m in hog heaven.

Also, complete aside, I can’t be the only one hearing similarities to “Skid Row (Downtown)” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” right?

“Louie Louie” – Richard Berry

“Louie Louie” by Richard Berry and The Pharaohs from YouTube

Born in Louisiana, Richard Berry is a name that pops up frequently amongst close-harmony, doo wop groups through out the late 1950s and early 60s.

After moonlighting with numerous groups as a hired gun, Berry finally found success with a group known as The Flairs.

With lyrics written on toilet paper to the rhythm of René Touzet’s “El Loco Cha Cha,” the calypso inspired “Louie Louie” was born in 1955.

While a little earlier than the canon of “Animal House,” I could easily see a tipsy sea of toga wearing teens twisting along to the track in somebody’s basement.

“Animal House” – Stephen Bishop

“Animal House” by Stephen Bishop from YouTube

Oh, Stephen.

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen…What am I supposed to do with a song like this?

For a movie as ridiculous as “Animal House,” it’s only fitting the title song should be the same.

But good, lord, there’s only so much I can stomach.

At this point, I can’t tell whether this was satire or earnest, and honestly I’m a little scared to ask.

It wasn’t until very recently I learned this was the same Stephen Bishop as “On and On,” a.k.a. the lovely little yacht rock ditty about pretty women in Jamaica who steal your money and break your heart.

And knowing that, I’m very disappointed, Mr. Bishop.

Reel-to-Reel airs live on WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1 Friday Mornings at 8 a.m.

Did you miss the set? Listen here. Do you want more? Click Here.

Remember, it’s not an orgy, it’s a toga party – Bodhi

By Bodhi

Human Dewey Decimal System for all things music and movies, purveyor of useless knowledge.