Song of the Week – Judy in Disguise, John Fred & His Playboy Band

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

Today’s SotW is the “one hit wonder” called “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band, released 50 years ago this month.

This song is often considered a novelty because it made a play on the Beatles’ popular “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” that was released on Sgt. Pepper just a few months earlier. It even has some goofy, pseudo-psychedelic lyrics to further the parody.

Judy in disguise, well that’s what you are
Lemonade pies with a brand new car
Cantaloupe eyes come to me tonight

But John Fred was no novelty. The dude had been in bands since he was 15 and made records in his home state of Louisiana since 1958.

After a hiatus to go to college, he put together an updated version of his Playboys in 1963 and began recording again on several different labels. By 1966 he was signed to the Paula label and released “Up and Down” (which is on the same album as “Judy…,” Agnes English). That song was a regional hit at home in Louisiana but wasn’t able to generate much notice nationally.

Then came “Judy…” that, ironically, booted the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” out of the #1 position in the singles pop charts in January 1968!

The song is actually pretty good. The iconic bass line is the hook but the song would have been even better if they had ditched the cheesy string solo and let a guitar or sax rip one off instead. And if you listen to the rest of Agnes English you will hear that the band was a very competent rock & soul bar band. In fact they preceded the more popular “horn rock” groups (BS&T, Chicago, etc.) by including brass and woodwinds as full time members of the band as early as the mid-60s.

Enjoy… until next week.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Judy in Disguise, John Fred & His Playboy Band

  1. So, that’s a catchy but awful tune from my youth, but you’re absolutely right to tie it to its New Orleans roots. Not a bad song, just bad lyrics and horn parts. And the rhythm track is pretty dope, as the kids say.

  2. I always kinda liked this song. I hadn’t heard it in a long time and although I’m not much of a horn section guy I don’t mind them. The violins actually made me laugh. That’s good, right? Go John Fred.

  3. I always hated this song in the same way I hated Snoopy V the Red Baron and Spirit in the Sky and other gimmicky songs. I guess that is the snob in me, and i write parodies and I like clever, but this stuff always seemed like pandering. As if the band was not clever enough to come up with an actual original tune, so they went silly.

    And i wrestle cos success always deserves some respect and they thought of it, not me so there.

    That said Tom, you did a lot to legitimize John Fred (maybe if he didn’t have a group called The Playboy Band which I also thought was stupid it would have helped).

    But, still does nothing for me. It is there with Incense and Peppermints and Green Tambourine. They give me a headache.

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