Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kiddie Records Rediscovered

Long, long ago, before home computers, before DVDs, even before VHS tapes, only television, radio and records existed to entertain us at our whim. Many children today take for granted they can see an animated feature once or a thousand times, day or night, at home or in the car, while those of us who grew up in the middle of the twentieth century had to wait seven long years to see any of the Disney re-releases, and if you missed one (as I missed Sword in the Stone), the next time you were probably be too old to care. But we did have access to phonographs, and many of us had a reasonably large collection of audio entertainment to entertain ourselves on rainy days which they called 'records.' The spectrum was surprisingly wide and rich. There weren't just recorded stories, but albums designed to introduce the young listener to symphonic music, opera, jazz and poetry as well as the popular recording stars of the day. And just look at the cover art!

When I was growing up, 78s were on their way out, but they were still issuing the yellow, red and orange acetate Golden Records, which were about 29 cents. I also had quite a few 45s, some of which were extended play and sometimes even came in sets for those who had phonographs, an alternative in the 1950s to the emerging market for LPs.

But what has happened to the thousands of recordings made specifically for the children's market? Where are they? Why haven't they been reissued on CD? Everything else has. Kiddie Records Weekly has collected many of the more interesting recordings on their site, including Gerald Mc Boing-Boing which I detailed in the previous post.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gerald McBoing-Boing: Rare Seuss artwork

Dr. Seuss did not illustrate the Gerald McBoing Boing picture book -- it was based on artwork done for the initial UPA short, adapted by Mel Crawford. It's a very charming book and has been reissued in recent years.

Dr. Seuss did, however, execute the artwork for the Capitol 45 RPM record. I had a subsequent 45, which was probably based on the short Gerald Mc Boing-Boing's Symphony (1953). I played it hundreds of times.

It would have been easy to simply issue a soundtrack of the short. Instead, Capitol chose to create new music and have it narrated by The Great Gildersleeve. It's difficult to explain just what that means because Gildersleeve was not a specific actor but a character in a popular radio and television show, initially played by Harold Peary and later by Willard Waterman. After listening to the record here, it's clearly Waterman. He's probably most memorable to today's audiences as Mr. Upson in Auntie Mame and Mr. Vanderhoff in The Apartment.