Monday, June 11, 2012


‘Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends’ is supposed to be a blog about politics and product reviews. So . . . uh . . . I guess you’ll need to think of this particular blog bit as a review of Sweet’s 1974 album ‘Desolation Boulevard’ and/or Disney’s 1951 animated movie ‘Alice In Wonderland’, although it’s really about neither of them.
As the title indicates, this is really about Ed Wynn . . .
and the ‘Ballroom Blitz’ . . . 

A large number of the songs I used to love as a teenager in the “Classic Rock” era have not held up for me over the decades. One of the exceptions is Sweet’s Top Ten hit ‘Ballroom Blitz’ - I have never stopped liking that song.

What I enjoy most about ‘Ballroom Blitz’ is probably the very thing that has always turned my brother Napoleon against it. I’m referring to that insane voice that singer Brian Connolly uses at a couple of points in the song.

I was listening to ‘Ballroom Blitz’ recently and when it got to the insane vocal sections I began thinking: I KNOW that voice; it sounds like that old character actor... 

I listened to that song over and over again, trying in vain to think of the name of that old character actor, but it was so far back on my tongue that I knew I wasn’t going to recall it on my own. Damn! Don’tcha hate it when that doesn’t happen?

After several days and nights of trying desperately to scratch that itch and being driven mad as a hatter, I suddenly remembered not the name of the actor but the fact that he provided the voice for the Mad Hatter in Disney’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’. So I Googled that movie and – DOH! – of course! Ed Wynn, you silly! How could you have forgotten his name? Got old age?

Ed Wynn’s voice was so distinctive that it has often been imitated, most notably by Daws Butler as cartoon character Wally Gator, and by Paul Frees as Captain Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz in ‘The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show’.

I love, Love, LOVE that voice as much as Brother Nappy hates, Hates, HATES it. 

He hates it? How could he hate it? “Don’t let’s be silly!”

Now I’m not saying that singer Brian Connolly was deliberately trying to imitate Ed Wynn’s voice in ‘Ballroom Blitz’ (although perhaps he was), but I am saying that he probably couldn’t have done a better “Ed Wynn” if he’d been trying.

Check these out and you’ll hear what I mean . . .

First listen to Ed Wynn doing the voice of the Mad Hatter in this wonderful YouTube video posted by dogpup4 :

Alice In Wonderland test footage - Unbirthday Mad Tea Party - Disney

And if you’re inclined, listen to the Mad Hatter sing ‘The Unbirthday Song’ :

Alice in Wonderland - The Unbirthday Song

Now listen to Brian Connolly’s voice in Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ at the 45 second point when he sings “Oh! I see a man in the back as a matter of fact, his eyes are as red as the Sun - And the girl in the corner let no one ignore her; she thinks she’s the passionate one”.

And again at the 1 minute & 50 second point in the following video when Brian sings “And the man in the back is ready to crack as he raises his hands to the sky – And the girl in the corner is everyone’s mourner; she could kill you with a wink of her eye” . . .

Sweet - Ballroom Blitz Lyrics

What do you think? Was Connolly deliberately trying to imitate Ed Wynn, or was it just coincidence? Either way, I love Ed Wynn’s crazy voice and Brian Connolly’s insane vocals.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


  1. I remember the song, but not well because this is a group that I did not listen to much at all. I probably haven't seen Alice since I was a kid, but I definitely remember Ed Wynn. He was like a Disney staple for many movies.

    But I'm going to have to say that maybe there might be a vague resemblance to the voice in the song, but I don't think that's what the singer was shooting for. I think he was probably trying to emulate a British music hall style character and I guess one could argue that Ed Wynn being of vaudeville stock is part of that heritage.

    What do you think?
    Blogging from A to Z

  2. BOIDMAN ~
    Oh, I think there's more than just "a vague resemblance to the voice in the song", but I agree with you that B.C. probably was not deliberately doing an "Ed Wynn".

    Regardless, I find it amusing - very funny. It's so over-the-top insane that it even makes me laugh out loud.

    After posting this I did a Google search, keywords being "Ed Wynn, Brian Connolly, Ballroom Blitz", and the only thing that came up was MY blog bit here. So, I guess I'm the only person that the Internet knows of who has made the "Ed Wynn/Ballroom Blitz" connection.

    Sweet had two other big hits: 'Fox On The Run' and 'Love Is Like Oxygen'. I (still) like "Fox"; "Oxygen" not so much.

    Overall, I'm not really a Sweet fan - they're OK - but I think the drummer came up with some pretty neat rhythms. And I know I'll always turn up the radio whenever I find 'Ballroom Blitz' playing. Anything that can make me laugh I'll forever appreciate.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Brother Boidman!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  3. I hear a resemblance, but Wynn's has more of a deep quality, and rather eccentric, while B.C.'s voice soars higher a bit and sounds more insane than eccentric.

    I really enjoyed seeing the Disney vid! I loved Disney and and I know you used to. I still do (probably because my reading list is smaller than yours) but to a lesser extent than before. The company has, like everyone else, gone off the deep end.

    Yeah, Nappy and I both agree that Brian's voice is a bit higher than Ed's, but I still think it's very similar.

    In my mind, I can hear Ed's voice, very excited and sounding just as insane and as high-pitched as Brian's.

    But I strongly suspect that what I'm really remembering in my mind is, in fact, Paul Frees IMITATING Ed Wynn as Captain Peter Peachfuzz in 'The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show', and doing it more excitedly and with a slightly higher pitch.

    After all, I am more familiar with Rocky & Bullwinkle than I am with Ed Wynn. So I think maybe I'm really comparing Brian Connolly's voice to Paul Frees doing an imitation of Ed Wynn.

    What would you call that? "The Three Degrees of Ed Wynn" or something?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  5. On second thought lets not talk about Ed Wynn anymore. It is a silly place.

    Br'er Marc

  6. BR'ER MARC ~

    >>...It is a silly place.

    Hmmm... Don't you mean "a laughing place"?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  7. As a youngin' I've never been familiar with the name Ed Wynn, but I'm very familiar with the voice and the song.

    And honestly, Connolly's rendition does sound eerily similar. An homage, perhaps?

  8. BEER BOYS ~
    Could be. But whatever it is, those two sections of the song are what makes it appealing to me.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  9. It's Steve Priest of Sweet doing those oneliners (typical of Sweet singles 1973 thru to 1977).

    Ahh. Thanks. I confess I've never been a Sweet aficionado. But regardless of the performer, I find it highly entertaining (best part of that song, to me).

    "Are you ready, Steve?"
    I guess he WAS.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  11. Er.... it was bassist Steve Priest who sang/spoke those parts!


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