Return of the Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen (1967) 

How a group of pop upstarts became stuck on Snoopy

Looking through the children's video section of a thrift shop, I was surprised to find that after cartoonist Charles Schulz had run out of agreeable holiday specials to subject the Peanuts gang to, the specials ground on regardless. Forty-five of them in all, according to Wikipedia: It's Armistice Day Again, Charlie Brown; Here's the Great Tax Audit, Charlie Brown; Cancer Awareness Month Comes Once a Year, Charlie Brown (which showcased Peppermint Patti's emphysema-drenched voice to great effect); Now It's "Have-You-Checked-Your-Rain-Gutter-Day," Charlie Brown, arrggh, the sorry list goes on and on.

So you got to give it up to the Royal Guardsman, who went to the mat by devoting their entire career to a goddamn Kraut-killing cartoon dog. I'm sure it was some suit at Laurie Records who forced these youngsters to crank out all the Red Baron remakes after the first one proved a hit. But note their look of defiance on the cover of this sophomore effort — the boys are posing sans the Sopwith Camel imagery as if to say, "Look, we just want to be like every other soon-to-be-forgotten Nuggets band, it's our garage-given right!" In their defense, they turn in a groovy song called "Om" and passable high school dance-band versions of "So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star" and "I'm a Man," the latter sounding a lot like Kermit the Frog fronting the Yardbirds, if I may switch franchises for the moment.

But nobody bought those Snoopy-free singles, so the dogfighter came back with a vengeance, and the Royals scored another two beagle bestsellers. However, after an Election Day themed "Snoopy for President," they were asked to knock it off with the Snoopy records by none other than the overlord of overkill himself, Charles Schulz!

Ever respectful of their talisman, the reunited Guardsmen had the good grief to wait six years after Schulz's death to issue their comeback CD, Snoopy vs. Osama in 2006. OK, Guardsmen! You got me! You're the ever-flogging best! That dead horse? It's yours!

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