With the rash of charity records glutting the charts in 1985 from the likes of Band-Aid, Hearing Aid, USA for Africa, Northern Lights and Artists United Against Apartheid, artists not invited to participate on those awareness raising platters were left scrambling for whatever viable charities remained. Intercoursing difficult penguins to keep the population from being endangered wasn’t one of them, but that didn’t stop Friends of Antarctica from assembling.
Among their ranks was Atlanta singer Letter Seventeen who noted of the session, “Everyone was told to check their egos at the door, but we subsequently couldn’t squeeze into the studio so we had to record it somewhere else.”
How much money or awareness was actually raised by FOA remains a mystery as most of the funds were swallowed up by a costly lawsuit from Barbra Streisand’s ‘people.” When the Funny Girl turned down an invitation to sing her trademark “people who need people” over the coda, a Barbra Streisand impersonator from Lake Tahoe was prominently featured in her place, and in the ensuing legal skirmish nearly every unsold copy of the single was confiscated and destroyed. And then destroyed again. Ironically in 2011, with global warming actually threatening the penguin population, no Friends of Antarctica exists when it could’ve been really useful.
Friends of Antartica’s BONUS B-SIDE of DUBIOUS DISTINCTION is a brief ditty addressing the plight of penguins more directly. Says producer Munge Quarterlow, “After the good feeling surrounding the ‘Let’s See Other People’ session and all the excellent catering, I had the participants watch a film about penguins not getting it on just to remind everyone of why we were there. And it brought everyone down. People sneaked out before we could even load a reel into the 24-track machine to record the b-side. ‘Lonely Penguin’ only came together because a couple of the members of Satyrn emerged from the broom closet where they were doing blow, an hour after everyone else had gone.”