#22: Shaving Cream by Benny Bell

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CKOC
Peak Month: April 1975
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #1
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #30
YouTube: “Shaving Cream
Lyrics: “Shaving Cream

Benny Bell (born Benjamin Samberg) was born in New York City in 1906. His father wanted him to be a rabbi, but after trying various odd jobs including self-employed street peddler, he decided to pursue a career in vaudeville and music, sometimes under the names Benny Bimbo and Paul Wynn. His first record, “The Alimony Blues”, for Plaza Records on December 16, 1929, was a comical song about preferring to spend time in jail rather than pay alimony. He went on to write approximately 600 songs. He also wrote jingles on radio, including for Lemke’s cockroach powder. Bell enjoyed writing risqué lyrics, and in 1939 he was advised that he could make so-called party records with “blue” lyrics, primarily for use in jukeboxes in cocktail bars. He entered into this endeavour using his self-established record company, while continuing to make ethnic and mainstream comedy records. In an interview on the Dr. Demento radio program, Bell stated that he kept his straight and blue careers separate for many years, the latter being a secret. His eventual fame would come from his risqué material.

His first jukebox release was a hot jazz arrangement of a traditional risqué drinking song, “Sweet Violets”. In 1946, Bell released “Pincus the Peddler”, which became his signature tune, despite the title character’s disreputable violent tendencies – (after an argument in a card game, he kicks his girlfriend down into the cellar). The lyrics conclude with Pincus the Peddler’s deportation to Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). As well, Benny Bell released “Shaving Cream” in 1946. It was an obscure record that mostly got played on jukeboxes at the time, given the risqué inferences. However, the song got picked up by Dr. Demento on his show in 1975. New York City’s WNBC-AM DJ Bruce Morrow heard the record and began playing it in heavy rotation in response to listener requests. So Vanguard Records re-released the song.

Shaving Cream by Benny Bell

Each verse in “Shaving Cream” ends with a mind rhyme of shit, the initial sh- segueing into the refrain, “Shaving Cream, be nice and clean…” The same technique was used in “Sweet Violets” and many other songs — it is known among folklorists as “teasing songs.” The song begins with this verse:

“I have a sad story to tell you,
it may hurt your feelings a bit.
Last night when I walked into my bathroom,
I stepped in a big pile of …shhhhh . . . aving cream.”

In addition to the verses on the single version of “Shaving Cream”, Benny Bell wrote more lyrics that appeared on some albums. These include:

I’m fed up with all politicians
when I vote, my ballot I’ll split.
They promise a whole lot of goodness,
but give you a whole lot of Shaving cream….

Now everyone know Humpty Dumpty,
from a wall he fell into a pit.
All the kings horses couldn’t remove him,
because he’s was covered with Shaving cream…

My wife likes to wear sliver slippers,
they look very neat and they fit.
That’s why she gets mad as the dickens,
when she carelessly steps into Shaving cream….

Pinocchio was quite a fellow,
a bad little boy I’ll admit.
Some people said he’s full of mischief,
and some said he was full of Shaving cream….

I once watched a swell game of baseball,
the batter he slammed out a hit.
And while he’s running to first base,
he stepped in big pile of Shaving cream…

“Shaving Cream” peaked at #1 in Hamilton, Windsor (ON), La Crosse (WI), and Minneapolis/St. Paul, #2 in Louisville (KY), Fort Lauderdale, Portland (ME), and Pittsburgh, #5 in Denver, Kansas City (MO), and Miami, #6 in Harrisburg (PA) and Tucson (AZ), #9 in Columbus (OH), #12 in Hartford (CT), Chicago, San Diego and Detroit, #15 in Toronto, and #20 in Montreal. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Shaving Cream” peaked at #30 in 1975. In Australia, the song peaked at #57 on the national pop chart.

Benny Bell died in 1999 in New York City at the age of 93.

A book called Grandpa Had a Long One: Personal Notes on the Life, Career and Legacy of Benny Bell, which is a combination biography and memoir written by his grandson, Joel Samberg, was published by BearManor Media and released in 2009.

Shaving Cream by Benny Bell

CKOC 1150-AM Hamilton (ON) Top Ten | April 16, 1975

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