January 23, 2019 would have marked the 100th birthday of comedy legend Ernie Kovacs. While the pioneering comedian, actor, television personality, and writer tragically died at age 42 in 1962, his influential, off-the-wall brand of comedy endures to this day. The Kovacs centennial is hitting record stores this summer with the July 5 reissue on Omnivore Recordings of the Grammy-nominated The Ernie Kovacs Album, originally released in 1976 on Columbia Records.
The Ernie Kovacs Album: Centennial Edition captures eleven tracks of comedy gold from the late Kovacs including appearances from memorably zany characters like the flamboyant Percy Dovetonsils, Pierre Ragout, and J. Walter Puppybreath. The original LP has been newly remastered from the original sources for this debut on CD and digital formats. Omnivore’s reissue has been expanded with six previously unreleased bonus tracks including a take on Frank Loesser’s Hans Christian Andersen classic “The Inch Worm.” Liner notes have been provided by television critic Diane Werts, and the booklet also includes previously unpublished photos, and the original album artwork including Mort Goode’s original notes. The release marks the fourth audio collaboration between Omnivore, Ediad Productions (so named for Kovacs’ onscreen partner and offscreen wife Edie Adams, who saved and preserved Kovacs’ legacy after his passing), and The Ernie Kovacs Estate. Previous titles include The Edie Adams Christmas Album featuring Ernie Kovacs, Percy Dovetonsils…Thpeaks!, and a holiday-themed 10-inch vinyl EP from Dovetonsils.
The Kovacs centennial continues with special events in Kovacs’ hometown of Trenton, New Jersey (a tribute at the NJ State Museum Auditorium on Wednesday, May 22) and Jamestown, New York (a Centennial Exhibit at the National Comedy Center opening August 7 as part of the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival). A coffee table celebration of Kovacs will arrive next year from acclaimed publisher Fantagraphics Books.
In the meantime, look for The Ernie Kovacs Album: Centennial Edition from Omnivore Recordings on July 5 on CD and digital platforms. It can be pre-ordered at the links below!
- Tom Swift
- J. Walter Puppybreath/Albert Gridley
- World’s Strongest Man/Man’s Best Friend
- Droongo: “John”
- Percy Dovetonsils: (a) Ode To Stanley’s Pussycat/(b) Ode to An Emotional Italian Knight
- Mack the Knife/Percy Dovetonsils: (a) Happy Birthday to a Bookworm/(b) Cowboy
- Strangely Believe Its
- Pierre Ragout
- Mr. Question Man
- Uncle Buddy
- Oddities in the News/Closing “I’ve Had It….Arrivederci”
Previously Unissued Bonus Tracks
- Hot Nudniks (6/9/55 ABC Radio)
- Your Own Crime Syndicate (6/13/55 ABC Radio)
- Little Kapusta Cyclotron Kit (6/13/55 ABC Radio)
- Choco-Spin Factory (from Kovacs Unlimited, 1953)
- The Inch Worm (9/10/56)
- It’s Been Real