Sweet and Lovely and First Generation

A few days ago, iTunes was featuring old time radio broadcasts as free podcasts from Humphrey/Camardella Productions. In fact, they still are; I just wandered over to the iTunes store and sure enough, the huge old-time-radio button is still on the podcast page.

Humphrey/Camardella Productions are the people who bring you Boxcars 711 old time radio (it’s also free) and they can be found in my list of “great listening sites” in the sidebar at right. I’ve loved the free programs I’ve listened to at the Radio 711 site, so I subscribed but the podcasts through iTunes were of disappointing quality – muffled, indistinct… you know that sound, like listening through a wet sponge. I unsubscribed quickly. Don’t know what the issue is – theoretically the exact same feed – but I’m going to stick to the Radio 711 site.

The problem, of course, is that as listeners, we wind up hearing somebody’s copy of some other person’s copy of another person’s copy of the copy of a copy that was originally made from… well, who knows? It might have been recorded off the radio by a home enthusiast, and if that’s all that’s available, we should consider ourselves lucky to have anything.

However – Radio Archives is an outfit that deserves your attention and patronage. Yes, it’s on CDs, and yes, it costs, but even in this day and age of free old time radio on the internet, these CDs are worth every penny.

For their Premier Collection, they only will work directly from original transcription discs, and their release from last month, The Coconut Grove Ambassadors, sounds stunning. I don’t have it yet, but plan on ordering it, based on previous purchases from these folks, and based on the clip you can hear on the page linked above, which has to be the most incredible sounding band remote from this era I’ve ever heard, even in its internet sample.

They have other great first generation recordings and are definitely worth a visit.

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At Last! The Avengers Original Soundtrack Music!

I’m an optimist.

Back when there used to be LP stores… back when there used to be CD stores… I would dutifully head to the soundtrack section on every visit and look for certain LP’s and later, CD’s.

I knew I wouldn’t find them, because I knew they didn’t exist. But I kept looking.

Music from the Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy movies? Nah. Wouldn’t ever happen.

The OST from The Time Machine? How many would they sell, maybe three?

And, of course, The Avengers.

For my money, the best TV soundtrack music of all time.

Laurie Johnson had written some of the most memorable “generic” production music, as I found out by accident when “scoring” a corporate video from production LP’s. (It was Laurie Johnson who wrote the wonderful piece Happy Go Lively, heard in John K.’s Ren and Stimpy over and over again). Lo and behold, even the Theme From The Avengers was originally written for use as production music, as I discovered when checking the cuts on an old disc. (It was originally titled The Shake.)

It took decades. Since the original Hal Roach recordings had disappeared, it took an incredible amount of work to piece together complete versions of the songs, but my friend Piet Schreuders did it. And then it took dedicated musicians playing period instruments – The Beau Hunks – to record note-perfect recreations of the LeRoy Shield Tunes.

After a false start – a re-recording of Russ Garcia’s score for The Time Machine – the real thing emerged, just a few years ago.

The new three-CD set of Laurie Johnson music has one disc devoted to The Avengers, with 70 minutes of original music score. I just ordered my copy from Buy Soundtrax.

Now, if someone would only find the original Larry Adler/Muir Matheson soundtrack to Genevieve, I could stop looking for the one album that would never exist that, for some reason, still doesn’t exist.

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In Search of the Shaggs – 25th Anniversary Edition

I was probably the last kid on my block to discover the Shaggs.

Frank Zappa had already declared the group “better than the Beatles;” Rolling Stone had already covered the LP and would go on to name Philosophy of the World “one of the 100 most influential alternative albums ever released.”

But I didn’t know that.

Not when, almost exactly 25 years ago, I walked into a record store and asked what, in the owner’s opinion, was the worst rock and roll record of all time.

Without hesitation, he suggested Philosophy of the World by The Shaggs.

Equally without hesitation, I went on to create a 20 minute audio documentary – just for distribution to friends – titled In Search of the Shaggs.

Link to In Search of the Shaggs 20 minute audio.

Link to The Shaggs Official Site.

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Non-Disney Disney Songs About Disney

Not songs by Disney; songs about Disney. Carefully selected for your listening pleasure:

  • Song 1 is about Walt Disney World and the lyrics contain “I got my annual pass”
  • Song 2 is about Randy Newman, Elton John, Phil Collins and the lyrics contain “If you love LA, but the rent is late…/ Write yourself a Disney Song”
  • Song 3 is about Times Square in New York City and the lyrics contain “Welcome to Disney World New York City zone”
  • Song 4 is about shopping, and the lyrics contain “We will remove Starbucks and Disney”
  • Song 5 is about McDonald’s, and the lyrics contain “Can’t you see they’re in cahoots with Walt Disney?”
  • Song 6 – Contains the lyric “日本 迪士尼 “
  • Tracks 7, 8, 9, are not songs and thus contain no lyrics
  • Track 10 is Song 7 and includes the chilling lyric “When they thaw out Uncle Disney/ gonna be some changes made/ pointin’ fingers/ askin’ questions/ 40 years of decisions made.”

Link: Non-Disney Disney Songs.

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The Studio Loan-Out/Crossover Of All Time

Can you imagine Woody Woodpecker singing “When You Wish Upon A Star?”

No? Then you may have trouble with a Fleischer character singing the Warner’s cartoon theme.

From Lee Hartsfeld.

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More Early Cartoon Music MP3’s

Klaus Kinski ultimately portrayed the title character in Werner Herzog’s masterpiece Fitzcarraldo.

Kinski was not the director’s first choice, however. Neither was Jason Robards, who had signed on to play Fitzcarraldo and was fully four months into shooting when he contracted amoebic dysentery and left the Ecuadorian rain forest to return to the U.S. for medical care. His doctors forbade his return.

Herzog eventually gave the role to Kinski, but not before he renewed his knock-down, dragged-out fight with The Walt Disney Company, which refused to loan out Donald Duck for the role. (The duck’s success in The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos made him an obvious choice).

The still above is all that remains of the nearly two months the duck spent at the jungle location. Herzog was so enamored with the idea of an unintelligibly-voiced main character that when the duck bowed out, the decision was made to shoot the film entirely in German.

For your listening and downloading pleasure:

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf – Harry Reser and his Eskimos
What, No Mickey Mouse? – Ben Bernie and his Orchestra
Mickey Mouse and Minnie’s In Town – Don Bestor and his Orchestra
Mickey Mouse’s Birthday Party – International Novelty Orchestra
Whistle While You Work – Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra
The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down – Russ Morgan and his Orchestra
Powerhouse – The Raymond Scott Quintette
It’s A Hap-Hap-Happy Day – Bob Zurke and his Delta Rhythm Band
and, in honor of this week’s stunning new Popeye DVD Box set (Thanks, Jerry!)…
Popeye Medley (Extended-play featuring Floyd Buckley, “Radio’s Popeye,” singing ‘I’m Popeye The Sailor Man,’ ‘Let’s Build a Bridge Today,’ ‘Hamburger Mine,’ ‘Popeye on Parade,’ ‘Won’t You Come and Climb A Mountain with Me,’ ‘Clean Shaven Man,’ and ‘Brotherly Love’)

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Early Disney Movie Music – with a British Flair

The famous march that opened TV’s “Mickey Mouse Club” had a great ‘hook’… “Mic-key-Mouse-Club, Mic-Key-Mouse-Club…” as identifiable as it is unforgettable. Written by Jimmie Dodd especially for the TV show, one would hardly expect to hear that very same ‘hook’ in a recording from 1933. But here it is.

Listen to the first few seconds of “Silly Symphony Selection,” and you will hear “Mic-key-Mouse-Club, Mic-Key-Mouse-Club…” I guess we will have to call this sheer musical coincidence. Or maybe that little musical ‘hook’ is somehow inherent in the Mickey Mouse theme song, “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo.”

Walt Disney had always refused to allow permission for records to be made from songs featured in his cartoons, but in 1933, he gave permission for a recording to be made by George Scott Wood, a British arranger and orchestra leader whose work Disney had heard and admired. Wood did an admirable job of capturing not only the Mickey Mouse theme but also a “Silly Symphony Selection” featuring music from “Funny Little Bunnies,” “Peculiar Penguins,” “The Pied Piper,” “The Grasshopper and the Ants,” “Lullabye Land,” and “The Wise Little Hen,” all “Symphonies” released in 1933 and 1934.

These British Dance Orchestras were mostly “sweet” bands, and listening to these tracks, you can easily imagine couples gliding across the polished floors of English hotels. Exceptions: the Dixieland-style treatment of “Turn on the Old Music Box,” from Pinocchio… and the jazzy treatment given to “When I See An Elephant Fly,” from Dumbo.

For your listening and downloading pleasure (All tracks 3-4m except for “Silly Symphony Selection,” 8m):

Download All

Silly Symphony Selection – Silly Symphonic Orchestra
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf – The BBC Dance Orchestra
Ferdinand The Bull – Joe Loss and his Band
Heigh-Ho – Henry Hall and his Orchestra
With A Smile and a Song – Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans (not a typo)
I’m Wishing – Henry Hall and his Orchestra
One Song – Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans
Whistle While You Work – Harry Roy and his Orchestra
Some Day My Prince Will Come – Jack Harris and his Orchestra
Give A Little Whistle – Joe Loss and his Band
Little Wooden Head – Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans
When You Wish Upon A Star – Joe Loss and his Band
Turn On The Old Music Box – George Scott Wood and the Six Swingers
When I See An Elephant Fly – Joe Loss and his Band
Love Is A Song – The RAOC Blue Rockets

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The Magnificent Seven Do Dumbo

The 1990 album The Best of the Worst by The Magnificent Seven was re-released on CD a few years ago by Basta Records. You could be forgiven for flipping by it, should you chance upon it in a store or on the web, for neither the title nor the cover nor the group’s confusing name gives any hint of just what kind of magnificence we’re talking about. This Magnificent Seven is a Dutch musical group, not a western movie. Basta simply says that they provide “a humorous interpretation of film-music.” But what music! What interpretations! Great takes on TV themes (Thunderbirds, Star Trek, The Avengers, Mission Impossible, Hawaii 5-0) and movie themes, including some Disney covers you wouldn‘t expect to encounter (Trust In Me, from The Jungle Book?) But don’t simply trust in me – listen to these splendid covers of Dumbo (3m) and Casey Junior (3m), then go get a copy at Amazon or Basta Records.

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