Kieran Moore – Man, I wish I had a trash heap. Looking around the room I’m in some would say I have, but I really do need one right now. You see, as everyone knows when a Fraggle needs advice or help they consult “The All-Knowing Trash Heap”, the magnificently magical being that is the font of all knowledge. She always seems to know just what to say which is why I wish she were here now. As I sit at my desk, I find myself wondering what on earth I can write that would capture her spirit, her soul and her essence.
Just as the Fraggles bravely cross the Gorg’s garden and risk life and limb to be in The Trash Heap’s presence, I will boldly go (hey, that’s catchy) traversing 10 songs, punctuation, and the blazing glare of a blank screen – risking repetitive strain injury and the indignity of mispolling something along the way all so I can gain some of Marjory’s awesome wisdom.
That might be hogwash, but as I look towards the first song on the list I know one thing is true – Marjory knows how to separate the junk from the garbage…
This song certainly isn’t junk or garbage. When I rank songs for a chart I give them all a score out of 100 and then take the tunes with the most points as the top 10. I have a sneaky suspicion that this could be my highest scoring number 10 ever. Possibly only my Jim Henson and Jerry Nelson charts would come close. One thing that you will notice as we go forward is that Marjory’s songs switch musical genres a lot. Probably more than any other individual character I have written about. I guess this is a by-product of Marjory’s mix and match heritage. All of her songs have that unmistakable Fraggle Rock sound, but it’s cool that the songwriters could see that this was a character they could have fun with. This song has a nifty Doo-Wap that feel I’m sure Marty McFly’s parents would have appreciated at their “Fish under the Sea” dance.
In the entry for the last song I mentioned different genres and this song has a bit of a Disco vibe going on. There’s some soul and blues too, but it’s the funky Disco beats I’m especially enjoying. It’s funkadelic (or something – I was born in ’78 so cut me some slack). The art direction and lighting on this track really help reinforce the musical genre. Marjory is bathed in light and has the blue wall behind her whereas Mokey, Red and Boober are lit in the red hues of a setting sun. It’s a clever way to make natural light look like the bright multi-colored lights of a dance club. It should come as no surprise that a character as multifaceted as Marjory is voiced by the always incredible Jerry Nelson. This is a man who performs both Herry Monster and Robin the Frog – versatile doesn’t even come close!
And here we are firmly in Blues Brothers Rock n Roll/Blues territory! This is a type of music I love. I also love any moment where Boober sings. I’ll always be Mokey’s guy, but every time I write a Fraggle Rock chart Boober edges ever closer to being my second favorite Fraggle. Dave Goelz is always great as Boober, but when he sings something magical happens. From “Get Blue” to “I’m Never Alone” via “Dixie Wailin’” and “The Friendship Song” Dave takes every possible moment to add another layer to Boober’s character. In a show like Fraggle Rock (as with any good musical) the songs are the moments for the characters to really express themselves and nobody does this quite like Boober. Anyway, this is Marjory’s chart so I have to praise her bright and breezy vocal which is both pin point sharp and laidback at the same time! How is that even possible?
I don’t suppose I’m spoiling things too much by mentioning the fact that as a Samba “Stuff Samba” is yet another musical genre that Marjory and her furry companions have performed. Apologies to anyone who didn’t know that this song is a Samba – if this blog ever adds a spoiler function I’ll make sure I use it in future! Once again, Dave Goelz really gets to shine here as Philo (which I always used to pronounce incorrectly like “Phil” with an “O” on the end). His “ad-libs” are probably the best thing about this song. I guess this is a good time to mention Philo and Gunge properly. They are truly Fraggle Rock’s biggest and best secret. Fantastically funny and massively memorable (I do love alliteration!) they brighten up any scene they are in. In the episode “Home is Where the Trash is” it’s revealed that Marjory only came alive when Philo and Gunge set up home nearby and if they leave she will slowly wither and die. It’s a bold step to have two comedy sidekicks so entrenched in the Fraggle Rock ecosystem, but it fits the ethos of the show completely.
This is another song that plays to Marjory’s versatility as she sings in various different voices and accents due to the fact that she’s just been moved to a new spot in the garden. This mixes up her (what I suppose can be called) DNA and the rest is history. Boober and Wembley’s reactions to The Trash Heap’s voice changes are hilarious and made only the funnier by the fact that they are completely ignored by Marjory, Philo and Gunge. Speaking of which, having mentioned Dave several times, I must commend Richard Hunt for his work as Gunge. I kind of feel that Gunge might (just) be the brains of the pair and that is perhaps borne out of the fact that behind the scenes Richard seemed to get a handle on the characters first – coming up with their famous “Nyaaah” catchphrase during an audition. Either way, Richard is brilliant here and is clearly enjoying stretching his comedic muscles.
This song was number seven in my “Fraggle Rock Group Songs” chart a few months ago. It’s gone up two places here so who knows, maybe one day this sweet ballad will creep up to number one! “The Great Radish Famine” is a classic episode of Fraggle Rock as far as I’m concerned and thanks to its numerous home video releases I would say one of the best remembered too. The episode, like this song, really speaks about how interconnected all of the species living in and around the rock are. It’s one of the abiding principles of the show and songs like this stand as beacons to remind us just how much we are all alike – regardless of race, colour, creed, species and anything else you can think of to divide us. It’s a message that Fraggle Rock has always conveyed and now more than ever it’s one we need to heed.
Another song, another musical style! Here Calypso gets the Fraggle Rock treatment with this number that is designed to make you move! As I mentioned at the start of this list, Marjory is full of great advice and this song is a perfect example of that. When Wembley is in need of some courage to go and see Gobo in Blue Rock it’s only natural that he turns to The Trash Heap for help. This song is so infectious I’d defy just about anybody not to be buoyed by it. Because of Marjory’s “Heinz 57” composition (that’s composition not compost – although both would work) she has a varied knowledge that means she has wisdom beyond her years. Her advice is always spot on, even when it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s even better when it comes in song form like this.
From the first squeal of electric guitar we know we are well and truly in the Rock camp for this song. Once again we see Wembley seeking Marjory’s help only this time instead of offering sage advice she has something a little more magical in mind as she offers up a love potion to help him attract Lou Fraggle. It seems obvious to make a joke about a trash heap getting down and dirty, but Jerry’s vocal performance is just that. We’ve seen before that he has a great Rock voice when necessary and he’s channelling his inner Floyd Pepper in this number. In fact, I’d love to see The Electric Mayhem cover this. Marjory’s face isn’t the most expressive in the Muppet world, but the puppetry here is brilliant and adds so much. Her character design is superb with her upturned mouth and banana peel hair making her instantly recognizable. Additions like the junky necklace and lorgnette give her an air of sophistication that is rarely seen in trash heaps these days.
Ok, I’ll admit this song is a bit of a cheat, but I really wanted to feature The Trash Heap in a chart and this was the only way to do it. You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I found out that Marjory only sang nine songs throughout Fraggle Rock’s entire run. I was so close yet so far and was reluctantly about to (ahem) trash this chart when this song came to the rescue. You’ll notice I was careful not to use the name Marjory in the title of the chart. Helping Hand is from the episode “New Trash Heap in Town” where the Fraggles find they are too scared to visit Marjory and Mokey is made the “New Trash Heap” instead. A little like New Coke this mistake is quickly put right when Mokey decides that she isn’t up to the job. However, before she gives up the title she sings this sweet ballad with Gobo, which means this is technically sung by “The Trash Heap”. This is a wonderful song that could easily score first place at some point, but it would be a little unfair for it to do so here. Is anyone else reminded of Brad and Janet from “The Rocky Horror Show” in this song? No? Just me then…
And we finish on this awesome Blues tune! This is a fantastic number. I can’t tell you how much I love the harmonica solo in this. This is truly one of my favorite Fraggle Rock songs and looking back on it, I can’t understand how this didn’t make my Jerry Nelson chart. I guess I was too busy focussing on Gobo. This is a virtuoso vocal from the great man himself – but it’s so much more than that! I’ve already mentioned the harmonica, but I think the whole orchestration from the percussive drums and tambourine to the pounding lead and bass guitars is perfection. This song appears in the first ever episode of the show so you could suppose that they were throwing extra bells and whistles at it and maybe they were, but there was never a noticeable dip in quality afterwards if that’s true. This song sets up Marjory’s character brilliantly and plays up her eastern European accent and demeanour making it her stand out moment from the show’s entire run as far as I’m concerned.
And there you have it! The sheer brilliance of The Trash Heap has pulled me through. What was once a blank screen is now pages of fantastic prose (ha!) carefully written to get my point across. I guess that’s why I needed Marjory’s help. If anyone can convey a message it’s her. Whether it’s advice on bravery or carrying the whole ethos of a show, what The Trash Heap is best at is telling it like it is. Fraggle Rock is an amazing show with an equally amazing premise, but on paper Marjory looks like an idea someone came up with at 16:55 pm on a Friday so they could go home. And yet, in practice she’s a stroke of genius and the adult voice the show really needed. I’m constantly blown away by the new ways I find to view this show and featuring Marjory here has made me see the whole thing differently once again. Thank You Marjory for allowing me to do that. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me in the past and, finally, thank you for helping me write this chart. I guess once and for all “The Trash Heap has spoken – Nyaaaah!”