Thursday, June 29, 2017

But It Looks Like Snuffles

Imagine your disappointment when your dad goes to the trouble and expense of buying a record featuring your favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters only to discover it tries to pawn off a fake as the real thing.

That’s what would have happened to kids some 55-or-so years ago.

Hanna-Barbera or Columbia’s Screen Gems worked out a deal with New York City-based Golden Records to release discs featuring the studio’s theme songs, sung by the characters themselves. The only problem was, someone else was voicing the characters. You see, H-B had a deal with a Columbia record subsidiary and it released albums with Daws Butler, Don Messick, et al. Golden had to settle for New York-based imitators—and some of the impressions were not all that good. (I still like the arrangement of the little combo doing the Wally Gator theme, though).

However, one thing that was good about these Golden efforts was the sleeve the 45s (and 78s!) came in. Whether they were designed at H-B, I don’t, but the characters look pretty good. Reader Rick Greene sent scans of his collection and we’re pleased to pass them along.

Long-time readers will know we’ve found and posted dubs of some of the themes and filler songs from the people at Golden. You can hear them HERE, HERE, and the Yogi Christmas ones HERE.


6 comments:

  1. I've got the Yogi Bear theme song record. Do you know who did the voices, because I thought they weren't too bad. Also, have these scans been stretched, or cropped perhaps, as they're not as square as they should be? Ta.

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  2. The Wally/Lippy one wins, hands down. I admit Wally Gator is one of my personal favorite characters, but the artist here put in some very subtle details, such as the coils of the rope. If you look even closer, the artist added ridges to Wally's tail as well—who did this? Shows you can add realistic things to a character and not take anything away from the design.

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  3. Though they shared the Golden name, the Golden Records sleeves were not prepared by Western Printing & Lithographing, as were the Dell and Gold Key comics, the Little Golden Books, or the Whitman H-B books. They were designed by artists working for Simon & Schuster (which also owned Little Golden Books till the late '50s, when Western bought them out), and thus, the covers are off model, though not wholly displeasing. (I owned seven of the sleeves shown here as a kid; though none survived, I still have those records. I have since acquired eight or nine of them.)

    As for the content, I find (and found then) the shows' theme songs (performed by the vocal group The Sandpipers--not the Sandpipers of "Guantanamera" fame--conducted by Mitch Miller)delightful, as Hanna, Barbera, and Curtin were masters of snappy lyrics and great melodies. The original songs were hit and miss, usually using public domain melodies with new lyrics. But Frank Milano, the "impressionist" attempting to duplicate Daws and Don's characters' voices for Golden, did worse versions of the H-B characters than the average six-year-old viewer. I know I did a better Yogi than he did, and I wouldn't even have any bass register for at least another four or five years.

    I was always puzzled by the Loopy de Loop record, which was the first time I'd heard of him, especially since Loopy wants to "sing of Yellowstone" (or "Jellostone; I forget) on the b-side. It saddened me to know that there was at least one H-B cartoon that existed that I could never actually watch, and it would be years before I even learned why. (Maybe this delayed fulfillment is why I seem to have an affection for the cartoons that few others have; I don't know.)

    Virually all of the 6-inch 78s (Golden may have been the last company to issue commercial 78s in America, going at least to 1963) and 7-inch 45s shown above were compiled into six or seven different LPs, which are maginally easier to collect, but as with the single sleeves, the artwork isn't a match for most of the fully authorized Colpix records though some of them are pretty good in spite of that. The Flintstones LP actually uses the original cast (as mentioned on the above 45), and is easily the best of them, remarkably well-written and produced (as was the ROCKY & HIS FRIENDS LP and single). Missing singles from the above array include Huckleberry Hound/Yogi Bear; Yogi Bear introduces Cindy Bear b/w Snooper & Blabber; Huck introduces Hokey Wolf/Ding-A-Ling; Touche Turtle/Dum-Dum; The Flintstones: Dino The Dino; The Flintstones: Lullaby of Pebbles; and the Campaign Songs of Magilla Gorilla/Yogi Bear. There were also at least two Jetsons singles: "The Jetsons/"Eep Oop (sic) Ork" and "The Push-Button Blues/Rama Rama Zoom." Six-song EPs were issued including many of the above singles, though later issues also included songs which may have originated on the LPs (one of which included the themes for Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle & Chopper), while the Flintstones and Jetsons EPs included original songs from their albums. Golden seems to have died just about the same time as Hanna-Barbera started their own HBR label.

    What's interesting is that the records from both Golden and Colpix, along with Dell's HUCKLEBERRY HOUND FOR PRESIDENT comic and the syndicated YOGI BEAR comic strip, created a fully integrated world which featured all of the funny-animal characters from the H-B series meeting each other no matter which show they happened to appear on. While this would become part and parcel of THE BUGS BUNNY SHOW when it debuted later in 1960, it wasn't really true of all of the MGM (or Lantz) characters, so Hanna and Barbera must have used Disney's opening to THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB as their inspiration to allow their characters to meet each other. (Of course, it didn't hurt that the series all shared the same sponsor.)

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  4. I first encountered Loopy De Loop in 1962 in the Gold Key comic book short-run series “Hanna-Barbera Bandwagon”.

    For two issues it was a giant comic that featured all the H-B non-starring characters, followed by a third “regular size” issue that (I believe) introduced Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist to comics. By “non-starring characters”, I mean that Augie Doggie and Snooper and Blabber were in it, but not Quick Draw McGraw. Same applied to Huck, Yogi, The Flintstones, and Jetsons.

    I just shrugged and figured Loopy to be one of those characters who was “specifically created for the comics”, like Scrooge McDuck and Gyro Gearloose – or, applying this to Hanna-Barbera comics, the Cave Kids.

    I would not know Loopy’s true origins until the USA Network’s “Cartoon Express” in the late eighties!

    But, getting back to the topic of H-B records, I, too, had many of them (including the Loopy De Loop theme song) and was invariably disappointed by the lack of authentic voices. Hungry for entertainment as we were back then, kids would take ANYTHING… and the business-boys knew it.

    At least the comics were good! …And still hold up well today!

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  5. I find it interesting that H & B are known as "Bill" and "Joe" on these sleeves rather than "William" and "Joseph," as they always were in the cartoon credits. I wonder if someone thought that made them sound more kid-friendly.

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  6. Hey, don't be too hard on Frank Milano as a performer outside these inferioir impressions...as one of the earlier articles several years ago said, he used be on e of radio's most amazingly v ersatile character actors, doing all kinds of genres, operating out of back east..SC

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