areuonsomething.com

Are You On Something . . . An Explanation
by Ray D'Ariano


This site is named after a comedy album I put out in the early 70's. Because of that, people often think it is my site. Truth is I'm just part of it along with a terrific group of talented people, including Leon Tsilis, Lady Jane Rushmore, Brian McAlley, Mike D'Ariano, Scott "Dr. Music' Itter, Dr. Philip Lombard, and a slew of contributors who keep it rolling.

From time to time we'll get an e-mail from someone inquiring where they can purchase the album. All I can say is that the thing has been out of print for over 30 years.

By the way, just like Tommy James, the early rock and rollers, vocal groups, 60's rock bands, and so many other artists who recorded for the music biz, I never made a dime from it. It did however allow me to do live gigs and meet some great radio people when I was out on the road like Jon Scott in Memphis and Geoff Nimmo in Cincinnati. No regrets… also gave us a name for the site.

The Cover is my favorite part of the project. Here's a bit from a review of Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume One that explains how that came to be:

"In the early 70's I was in my early 20's. The last thing in the world I ever wanted was for Bob Dylan to sue me. I don't know whose idea that was.

What I do recall is this, Bob Gruen took my photograph hanging out, surrounded by all kinds of clutter; beer cans, a small stash, a kitsch pillow from Niagara Falls, Sarah Lee chocolate cake, a slinky, transistor radio, all kinds of clutter. It was supposed to be some kind of visual interpretation of what was going on in my head, a what makes this guy tick kind of thing. I mean, that was the concept. No one was thinking Dylan parody, not that night anyway.

"Are you on something?" was a question frequently asked by my mother during my adolescence. We decided to go with this as the title of my comedy album.

Now this guy in the photo, he's got the babe in the red sweater and short white skirt looking up adoringly at him, the great crib, or pad as it was called back then in the Stone Age, and all this going on, right? But what's his story? He's not a hippie, not Wavy Gravy or Country Joe, looks kind of clean cut in a pre-yuppie way, but when you see his smirk and attitude, the question "Are you on something?" makes sense. That's what my manager and the art director told me anyway.

I didn't plan the session. I just showed up and tried to cooperate. As a matter of fact I think the attitude I project on the cover says, "Hey, I'm here on this album. I don't know how it happened, but what the hell, you know?" And that's how I really felt.

Anyway, while we were in the process of selecting the cover shot, somebody said the photos reminded them of the cover of Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home." Somebody else said why don't we do a takeoff of that cover? And then another voice offered Dylan or Columbia will sue us! And somebody said, "Great!" Think of the publicity, Bob Dylan sues an unknown comic who ripped off his album cover. You'll be a household name in a flash!"

I sat there and watched 3 record business guys who were thrilled with this concept, and when they asked me, the 21 year old kid, what I thought about it I said, "Yeah, I guess." What did I know? Glenn Christensen, the art director, did a superb job of duplicating the Dylan graphics. To make it look more authentic, Gruen took more photos for the back cover and the record was released.

Dylan didn't sue me, nor did he mention the situation in "Chronicles Volume One."

WHEN THE ALBUM WAS RELEASED…

… legendary WNEW-FM DJ's, Dave Herman, and Alison 'The Nite Bird" Steele recorded the radio commercials for it and Robert Christgau, Dean of American Rock critics had this to say in the Village Voice:

Ray D'Ariano Are You on Something? [Kama Sutra, 1972]
Second generation hip comedy. The third time I listened to this record, the first side destroyed the two comedy albums I'd just heard--it includes the best ever Woodstock, Cheech & Chong & FM radio bits. It's very subtle, though, no yock-yocks. Potential. B+

A few years later when Albert Brooks released an album Christgau wrote:

A Star Is Bought [Asylum, 1975]
Brooks apparently lives in a milieu so saturated with comedy that laughter itself seems redundant, perhaps even vulgar. All that matters is the idea of Funny. In just that sense, the album is very Funny. Fortunately, it is also good for a modicum of laughs. Reminiscent in tone of Are You on Something? by Ray D'Ariano, who is now a successful promo man at MCA, where he keeps everyone in the office in stitches. B+

Of course, the fact that you read all of the above leads me to ask, are you on something?