Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Songs in the Key of Fake

There are three kinds of Hanna-Barbera records. One kind features music and/or voices that were in the original cartoons. That’s the best kind. Then there’s the other kind where other people pretend to be the characters or the music features different singers. Some are okay (for example, the LP with June Foray as Boo Boo), others aren’t so hot (anything with Frank Milano). And then you have the platters produced by Hanna-Barbera Records, some of which have nothing to do with the cartoons and others leave you stunned.

We have the latter in this post, although someone will likely wail about “happy childhood memories” or some other kind of misty nostalgia as they sigh in delight over what’s below.

“Golden Cartoons in Song Volume One” is one of those albums which precocious little me would have asked my father why he didn’t buy a real Hanna-Barbera album instead. This features songs that were never heard in Hanna-Barbera cartoons sung by people who had no association with the cartoons. At Golden Records on the East Coast, similar songs were cheery, minimally-orchestrated pop tunes. These “themes” from a 1966 HBR album are supposed to evoke rock music but pull their punches. Compare that to Hoyt Curtin’s theme music for the actual cartoons where the brass section cuts loose. And whoever came up with “Jonny Quest” for this album evidently never saw the show. They seem to think it was about spies or secret agents.

Curtin’s name is on the album as one of the composers. So are Stan Farber, Larry Goldberg and Lynn Bryson. Several web sites have a fascination with HBR recordings and you can learn more about Goldberg at them. The lyrics for these songs were by Charlie Shows, who contributed dialogue to the studio’s cartoons in its first two years. His “Augie Doggie” lyrics quoting Doggie Daddy make no sense; it’s more of his rhymes for the sake of rhymes. “I treat Augie like a brother. Why, you’d think I was his mother.” What’s that supposed to mean??

Listen at your own risk.
















  1. I've got Hanna Barbera Records Touche Turtle & The Reluctant Dragon record. The Touche song & Dum-Dum from your Golden Cartoons record are the same. The voices on the story portion are suppled be Bill Thompson (of Droopy fame) as Touche and Daws Butler as Dum-Dum and the dragon. Bill & Daws do all the other voices. The background music is all Hoyt Curtin. Uncredtited, but I know the music. The songs Touche & Dum-Dum are credited to Lynn Bryson and Peggy Shows. The story is credited to Charlie Shows.

    Thanks for sharing this. It brings back memories.

  2. Volume One? Don't tell me there's a VolumeTwo!

  3. Doug, I recognize many of those songs as I had many of those albums INCLUDING your Touche one, as well as the one Top Cat one, the Augie/Doggie "Pinnochio" one, and somne with Flintstones, such as the "Mary Poppins" crossover. Doug, I think we all recognize Hoyt Curtin';s music. Dum Dum is one of the strange mysterious replaced voices, why Alan Reed, the original Dum Dum isn't used here or on the Flintstones LP as Fred. Interestiung that by that time that Bill Thompson was still around at HB. "Hello, all you happy people"-Droopy.

  4. The Jonny Quest theme, used above, was reused on H-B's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea record. At least they used the real voice actors for that (as well as some actual H-B cartoon underscores).

  5. I recall and still enjoy the Dum-Dum song (from the album Your Pal Doug and I cite with Touche and Dum dum). SC

  6. I remember being pretty disappointed with this one. Not only did it not have any of the original theme songs or character voices, it only played for about 15 minutes. But in those days a kid had to make the best of any purchase, so eventually I reconciled to it. Actually, these days I have developed a genuine appreciation for these HBR versions of the theme songs. It has pretty good production values compared to some of the comparable kid records being released around the same time.

    The Quick Draw McGraw song was the only one on Volume 1 that was not taken from a character album. Volume 2, which featured songs from the story albums, such as "Cinderella" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" lists on its cover (I never owned the Vol. 2 album, but I have seen reproductions of the cover) a "Billy the Kid" song that likewise has no counterpart on an existing album...which causes me to speculate that perhaps a Quick Draw album featuring a telling of the story of Billy the Kid was in the works at one time and perhaps didn't get released for one reason or another. This makes sense, because there was an Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy album and there were two Snooper and Blabber albums (one that actually had the right voices) in the HBR series. Surely a Quick Draw album was at least planned.

    As mentioned above, Alan Reed did not do the voice of Dum-Dum on the Touche album, and in fact out of the several Flintstones albums in the series, he only did the voice of Fred on "Goldi-Rocks and the Three Bearosauruses," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Wilma Flintstone Tells the Story of Bambi." On the latter two, his role was very minimal. Henry Cordon provided the voice of Fred on the other albums. (Mel Blanc was likewise frequently replaced as Barney Rubble by Daws Butler, who had stepped in to do the Barney voice for several TV episodes of "The Flintstones" when Mel was incapacitated.)

    One of the disappointing aspects of the HBR series was its frequent use of The Wrong Voices--although Paul Frees did a fairly decent job as Jinks the cat in the "Cinderella" album, and Allan Melvin did his best to sound like Yogi Bear on the "Jack and the Beanstalk/Little Red Riding Hood" album. Still, it was frustrating, especially on the first listen, to make the discovery that in several cases the voices were not the same as on television. And the original theme music was seldom if ever available on records.

  7. A number of the mid-60s HBR albums are now on Youtube and vary widely in quality and faithfulness to the original characters/series. It's very intriguing to hear Curtin or Nichols score composed for series made (THE JETSONS, MAGILLA GORILLA, JONNY QUEST) after the 'retirement' of the star character (Huck, Yogi, Snagglepuss, Snooper & Blabber).

    Obviously the unavailability of some of the original voice actors made subsitutitons inevitable. Hence Paul Frees voicing Huck (in a perfect Andy Griffith imitation) and Allan Melvin as Yogi. Daws Butler, however, is very prominently featured on other HBR albums. He subs for the presumably unavailable Mel Blanc as Barney and Mr. Spacely, and provides ALL the male voices for the Wizard of Oz album narrated by Snagglepuss(!). Interestingly Penny Singleton was available for the Jetsons album a good three years after the series' cancellation, but Don Messick subs- very poorly- for George O'Hanlon. (Allan Melvin could have probably done a better job.)

    The Yogi/Three Stooge mashup is easily the most bizarre, but was probably easy enough to do given Columbia's then-ownership of both properties. And the 1960s stooges were able to provide their own voices.

  8. Got to love how the actors/singers are making no attempt to sound anything like the characters. Probably had little to no knowledge of them. Some of these entries have no connection to the shows either, the Jonny Quest one doesn't even have any lyrics so the connection's even slacker. Upbeat tunes though.

  9. Might wanna update the links, Don. Otherwise, how can you share the suffering? ;-)

    1. Maybe it's your browser. All of them play fine for me.