I recently came across a novelty record called Punk Nursery Rhymes. Expecting unlistenable junk, I instead found it highly enjoyable. It was certainly better than it needed to be. Released in 1981, the record was attributed to a band called the Rotten Eggs, but that’s about all that could be immediately discerned. There are no credits included with the album, and it’s the only LP by the Rotten Eggs. I couldn’t help but wonder: who was behind this LP?
Punk Nursery Rhymes was issued by the Golden Editions label in 1981. Golden Editions was a part of Music World, a record company that could be described as Australasia’s version of K-Tel Records. Music World and their sub-labels specialized in budget compilations and novelty records, and like K-Tel, marketed their products through infomercials. You can see, above, that the “As Seen on T.V.” logo was worked into the album art, which features a rendering of Humpty Dumpty after his great fall. The “Humpty Dumpty” track was my introduction to Punk Nursery Rhymes. The song is brilliantly ridiculous—a nursery rhyme executed with the energy and attitude of punk. The song collapses at its conclusion, which is a perfect ending, as it works as both a parody of the ramshackle nature of early British punk, but also represents Humpty Dumpty’s tumble off the wall.
So, who were the Rotten Eggs? Blair Parkes a member of the Christchurch, New Zealand band, All Fall Down, has shed some major light on the mystery. Parkes has shared his memories of the All Fall Down days on his website, and in one section, wrote about their mid ‘80s visit to Tandem Studios in Christchurch. In it, he reveals who was behind Punk Nursery Rhymes:
I’d been up to Tandem Studios about five years earlier, as a member of the Newz fanclub. The band [the Newz] was briefly back from Melbourne and were recording Punk Nursery Rhymes as “The Rotten Eggs” for Music World. They were making the songs up as they went along. I’d not known you could do that. Eric Johns engineered both the Rotten Eggs sessions and ours. Eric was a very cool African-American guy married to a New Zealander. He had been in Heatwave who had struck it big with “Boogie Nights” and another couple of disco-era hits.
The Newz were a new wave act around for a spell in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. Also from Christchurch, the Newz released one album, Heard the Newz, which came out in 1980. Like Punk Nursery Rhymes, it was produced by Eric Johns and recorded at Tandem Studios. The LP was put out by Music World, with the Newz said to have been the only “proper” group on the label, at the time. It’s unclear how Punk Nursery Rhymes came to be, but my guess is that it was commissioned by Music World, and the Newz and Eric Johns did it to make a few extra bucks. It was all anonymous, so why not?
When I first found a stream of the full LP online, I figured I’d never get through all 18 songs, but Punk Nursery Rhymes is surprisingly entertaining. Punk parodies rarely capture the spirit of the genre accurately, but the Newz and Eric Johns not only did just that, they successfully paired punk with nursery rhymes—! The project may have come together quickly, but nothing about it seems haphazard. There’s even some post-punk weirdness worked into the mix, which was above and beyond the call of duty. The Newz are good players, and genuinely sound inspired. It’s all very infectious and splendidly absurd.
At some point, K-Tel, fittingly enough, licensed Punk Nursery Rhymes, and the label currently sells digital downloads of the release. The album has also been reissued on CD.
A YouTube playlist of the 18-track release is embedded below. It’s also streaming on other platforms, including Spotify.
As far as I can tell, no one associated with Punk Nursery Rhymes has ever publicly commented on the album.
We’ll leave you with the video for the Newz song, “Accident Prone.”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The story of the great Sex Pistols soundalikes swindle