It's not what you think. It's not a Halloween mask. I don't think it's the face you wear in public to hide your real persona. Nor the alter ego that hides you from yourself in those internet forums. In fact, I've never figured out what the hell a $27 Snap on Face actually is.
Well, that's not technically correct. While I may not understand what a "snap on face" is, I do know that the "$27 Snap On Face" was a '70s band from Northern California. More specifically, it was my uncle's band.
The Snap On Face released one album in 1977 called "Heterodyne State Hospital" on the independent label, Heterodyne Records. The cover features the band (my uncle is second from left, on the walker) posing as patients of the fictitious Heterodyne State (Mental) Hospital. The back cover reveals additional photos of the band in their asylum poses, faces and limbs contorted and wacky. Politically correct it ain't. Funny? Well, reasonable minds could differ. Personally, I find it hilarious.
These guys were seriously crazy. Well, as one reviewer suggests, "they weren't really asylum inmates (perhaps quite a damaged crew, but not certifiable)." A recent article about the band, verified by my mom, describes their seemingly insane antics in concert: "Onstage, the band lived up to their self-created persona as mentally disturbed individuals by dousing themselves in ketchup, lighting stage props on fire and, at one show christened 'Jacques Cousteau's 25th Annual Toga Party,' performing in a homemade bathysphere on a stage littered with helium-balloon fish." Sounds pretty fuckin' nuts to me. Not surprisingly, mom insists they were very good entertainers and a lot of fun to watch.
I was too young to ever see the band work their magic. I have fond memories, however, of listening to the album as a young child. In fact, I was -- and remain -- in awe of my Uncle Bob and his insane asylum posse. The album itself was cool. Not your standard dark vinyl. This album was blue. A fuckin' blue album. How cool is that?
Musically, I love the $27 Snap On Face. Their sound was actually fairly straightforward pop/rock with a few alternative gems thrown in for good measure. My only complaint? On a few tracks, the lyrics could have used some enhancement. If I recall correctly, one of the catchier songs, "Let's Have an Affair," was fairly uninspired lyrically:
Hey, Baby, Let's have an affair
It makes no difference if it's here or there
Hey, Baby, it looks like you could
It may not last long, but its gonna be good
And the very wacky "Tie Your Boots Tight:"
Tie your boots tight
Tie your boots tight, buddy
Tie them up good (as tight as you can)
WTF? Well, what more can you expect from five dudes who made the Looney Tunes seem pretty fuckin' sane?
Another cool thing? My uncle's guitar. It was beautiful natural wood and carved in the shape of a dollar sign. I wish I had a picture of his unique axe. In fact, I'll email him, and if he sends a pic, I'll amend this post to share his pride and joy with everyone.
Oh, and one more cool thing: this record is apparently considered a rare collectable. One site lists it for sale at $125. Another one wants $100. Not bad for an album which, when originally pressed, didn't sell all 1,000 copies.
Now, if only I could sell my CDs at anywhere near $100 a pop . . . Of course, instead of relying on MySpace, I might need to start dousing myself in ketchup, lighting stage props on fire and, at a show christened 'Jacques Cousteau's 25th Annual Toga Party,' perform in a homemade bathysphere on a stage littered with helium-balloon fish.
I'm sure folks would pay some good coin to see that.