1957 Walt Disney’s Fantasia Soundtrack LP

And this is why I still own a record player. Every once in a while I stumble across something truly special. Although Fantasia (released in 1940) was a critical success it was a box office disappointment for Walt Disney. His dream of re-releasing the film with new segments wouldn’t be realized until the far-off year of 2000, and again with critical acclaim but limited box office returns.

These facts in no way diminish this film’s historical and artistic significance! So when I found a mint condition copy of the soundtrack for Fantasia from 1957 I was ecstatic!

Album cover

Being as this LP was released 17 years after the movie I wondered if it was the original soundtrack or if there was one released earlier. Although Walt did want to release an earlier version, it never happened. So what I have found is the first soundtrack release for the film. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the release history for Fantasia:

Disney considered releasing the film’s soundtrack around the time of the film’s roadshow release, but this idea was not realized. The soundtrack was first released as a mono three LP set and a stereo 8-track tape in sixteen countries by Disneyland and Buena Vista Records in 1957, containing the musical pieces without the narration. A stereo edition LP was issued by Buena Vista Records in 1961. Disney was required to obtain permission from Stokowski, who initially rejected its sale unless the Philadelphia Orchestra Association received a share of the royalties.
The Kostal recording was released on two CDs, two LPs and two audio cassettes by Buena Vista Records, in 1982.
In September 1990, the remastered Stokowski soundtrack was released on CD and audio cassette by Buena Vista Records. In the United States, it debuted the Billboard 200 chart at number 190, its peak position, for the week of November 17, 1990. Two months after its release, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 500,000 copies sold in the United States. In January 1993, it was certified platinum for sales in excess of one million copies.
For the film’s 75th anniversary, the Stokowski and Kostal recordings were released on two LPs and four CDs as the fifth volume of the Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection. The set includes Stokowski’s recording of the deleted Clair de Lune segment, and a recording of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Peter and the Wolf with added narration by Sterling Holloway.

What really stands out about this LP are the notes and artwork. The packaging is basically a 26-page booklet with three vinyl records. Here are the inner pages:

The above pages outline the goal intended for the recording quality. It is worth a read if you care to enlarge the picture!

Both Walt and Leopold Stokowski make good arguments for why Fantasia was a worthwhile project. Again, it is worth a read!

As you can see, each section of the film has a two-page spread dedicated to it. On the left there is an introduction to the original musical piece followed by a description of how it was handled in the film. On the right is a beautiful piece of concept art from the section in question. I’ll say it again, it is worth enlarging the pictures to give these pages a read!

The final pages contain more of the concept drawings from the film:

    

As noted earlier, this was a Buena Vista Records release. It may never have been released as Stokowski and later his estate tried to block the sale of any Fantasia soundtrack unless monies were shared with Stokowski and the orchestra that played the music. Obviously, things were worked out:

I was amazed to find that the vinyl records themselves appear unplayed! There is no dust, wear, or scratches. Considering this release is over 60 years old, I consider finding such a pristine copy unprecedented!

This will now be the cornerstone of my Disney record collection.

Walt Disney’s Stories from the Mouse Factory LP

A long title for a short entry in the catalogue of Disneyland Records. These story records are indeed short on content but perfect for little ones with short attention spans. This offering even has eleven storybook pages to help focus the listener.

 

Front and back of the sleeve

The four stories that are narrated for us are The Little House (1952), Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952), Johnny Appleseed (1948), and Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952). These are all Disney Shorts. This album was produced in 1972.

Now let’s have a look at the storybook pages within:

I was very glad to see no coloring or children’s name scrawled on these pages! Also, there is no hole punch through the top right corner. This was a technique practiced by retail stores to identify discounted LP’s that could not be returned for a refund. Most of my Disney record collection has just such a hole punched in the corners. Boo retailers!

    

Disneyland Records label

Just for a bit of fun, take a look at the time on the punch clock at The Mouse Factory where Mickey works:

Who starts or ends their shift at 2:50 in the morning or afternoon? I guess when it’s your image on the clock, you can punch in or out any time you want!

Tubby the Tuba LP – Narrated by Annette

Who is Tubby the Tuba you ask? Well, if you were into collecting very obscure Disneyland Records releases in 1963, you’d recognize this character as a one-off musical instrument used to teach children about, what else: music.

But I’m guessing that doesn’t clear anything up for you, so I think this would be a good time to show you the LP cover:

I love his socks!

This LP from Disneyland Records follows the pattern of most similar releases in that the main title is confined to the A Side, with filler or stock music of a related theme confined to the B Side. So as you may gather from that, Tubby the Tuba and his story only appears on the A Side of this LP.

Annette does a fantastic job of narrating the story doing many character voices and even singing a very funny character song for a bullfrog.

FUN FACT: Even though Walt talked her out of changing her last name, with the argument that she would be unique and remembered for it, she is often billed as simply ‘Annette’. What’s up with that?

The story of Tubby the Tuba follows, you guessed it, a tuba as he tries to be taken seriously by the snobbish instruments of the orchestra he is a part of. While they get to play beautiful melodies he only gets to go ‘Uumpa! Uumpa!’ and is shouted down if he tries to do anything else.

After a rehearsal Tubby goes off by himself and sits down beside a pond where he meets a large bullfrog. The bullfrog is a happy and courteous fellow and greets the tuba and soon they are swapping life stories which turn out to be very similar. It seems the bullfrog’s singing isn’t appreciated by his pond friends either. He sings a tune for Tubby that both cheers him up and gives him something to play for his band mates!

Tubby returns to the orchestra for another rehearsal and tries to sneak the bullfrog’s tune in but is again shouted down by the other instruments. But the Conductor hears it and asks Tubby to play it again. He does so and it is so good that all of the other instruments join in and Tubby is now a respected part of the orchestra!

NOT-SO FUN FACT: Back in 1963 society still wasn’t very sensitive to anything that was different. Movies and television were filled with stereotypical depictions of heavy-set people. Usually every plucky protagonist had an overweight friend constantly munching on junk food for comic relief. I always wondered how those (usually) younger actors felt about being hired solely to be laughed at?

My contention is with the naming of this character: Tubby the Tuba. With the root word so obvious and the tuba’s size as an instrument, it’s not hard to see why the writers took the easy way out in naming him. But although arguably not as cute, couldn’t he have been named Thomas the Tuba or Terry the Tuba or Tony the Tuba?

This may be a stretch, but it comes close to fat shaming a tuba because of its size.

Now back to 2016 and the B Side of the LP:

  Tubby the Tuba Record 4

  1. This was a Short from 1953 and provided a history of music through the ages, from prehistoric man to the modern symphony orchestra.
  2. An old standard given a new musical twist.
  3. A medley featuring five things kids might sing about.
  4. Jimmie Dodd sings a quasi-religious song based on the Bible book of Proverbs to the Mouseketeers.
  5. This song was written by Dodd but sung by an ensemble.

It was great to hear Jimmie Dodd again as he was such a great talent and a very good man all around. It’s always interesting to see him outside of his Mickey Mouse Club role.

These old LPs are great collectors items and very inexpensive to obtain. I picked this one up a local flea market for just a dollar. The music is well done and the artwork is fun!

Original Radio Broadcast Long Play Records

Although I love Disney, it doesn’t have a stranglehold on my interests. My attention turns to anything interesting and especially vintage!

This post contains no less than ten LPs I found at a local flea market. And what they contain is pure entertainment gold:

The Shadow Knows!

The Shadow is a vigilante crimefighter and one of the most famous adventure heroes of the twentieth century. He has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games, and at least five films.

The character debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour developed in an effort to boost sales of Detective Story Magazine. Later a magazine based around The Shadow was created. The first issue of The Shadow Magazine went on sale on April 1, 1931. On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama, a new radio series based on the character, debuted. And the rest is history!

The most famous man to voice The Shadow was Orson Welles. And by coincidence, the next two LPs I found feature him:

     Original Radio Broadcasts 013

Many may not know that Welles got his start in radio. He did a little show with The Mercury Theatre on the Air called War of the Worlds (October 30, 1938) which threw a whole nation into panic and chaos. But it certainly got Welles some attention!

The copy of War of the Worlds that I have is not the original broadcast, but a reproduction of the play by The Lux Radio Theatre done on February 8, 1955.

Keeping with the science fiction and adventure genre:

The Green Hornet visits Germany?

Original Radio Broadcasts 003

The Green Hornet and Kato

A masked crime-fighter created 1936 who first appeared on radio. The character appeared in film serials in the 1940s, a network television program in the 1960s (co-starring Bruce Lee as Kato), multiple comic book series from the 1940s on, and a feature film in 2011.

The Green Hornet is the alter ego of Britt Reid, wealthy young publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper. By night Reid dons a long green overcoat, green fedora hat and green mask to fight crime as a vigilante. He is accompanied by Kato who drives their technologically advanced car, the “Black Beauty”. The twist for this character is that he is believed to be a criminal, a cover he uses to infiltrate the underworld and foil their plans.

Let’s continue with another fictional character that focuses more on thinking than punching:

     Original Radio Broadcasts 010

Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone played Holmes and Nigel Bruce played Watson in fourteen U.S. films from 1939 to 1946, and in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on the Mutual radio network from 1939 to 1946.

The top LP features two half-hour episodes from the radio New Adventures series and features some nice, if simplified, artwork on the cover. For many of these old LPs it is the covers that draw in the collectors!

The bottom two LPs feature a more generic cover with only the text changing. Not as interesting for collectors, but easier to produce for the art department!

Next I have two LPs that feature some of the finest non-Sherlockian mystery shows:

Original Radio Broadcasts 005    

Many A-list actors and actresses took a turn at radio in the early days, some even lending their names to the programs, such as Mystery in the Air with Peter Lorre.

Other times, the radio program was popular enough to be made into a movie:

The Fat Man was popular during the 1940s and early 1950s. The detective started out anonymous but rapidly acquired the name ‘Brad Runyon’. Broadcast from the studios of WJZ in Newark, New Jersey, the series premiered on the ABC Radio Network on Monday, January 21, 1946, and ran until 1951. In that year, 1951, it was finally made into a movie for the silver screen.

Original Radio Broadcasts 008The first Thin Man movie was released in 1934 and spawned many successful sequels. The movies were popular because of the volatile relationship between the main leads. It was a natural to recreate this chemistry on radio!

OK, let’s lighten up things a bit!

My favorite comedy duo of all time! From silent films to talkies, these two comedians had no equal. Their low-key approach stood in stark contrast to the frantic antics of other popular acts of the day which only served to endear them to fans and critics alike!

Original Radio Broadcasts 015

This LP features some skits taken from movies and short subjects filmed between 1929 and 1940. Think of it as more of a comedy album than a soundtrack.

Fun Line: “Well, you can’t fool the doctor some of the time, and you can’t fool the doctor part of the time, because you’ll only be fooling yourself all of the time!” – Stan

I look forward to sitting in the dark and listening to these great old programs! Now, at the end of this post, I’d just like to remind my readers that “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay… The Shadow knows!”