A bonanza of Bugs, a plethora of Porky, a feast of Fudd and a little dab o’ Daffy to celebrate Warner’s wascally wabbit’s “official” birthday later this month.
BUGS BUNNY AND HIS FRIENDS
Capitol Records Children’s Series J-3257 (12” LP Mono / 37 minutes / 1961)
BUGS BUNNY AND HIS FRIENDS
Capitol Records Records Children’s Series L-6987 (Side One Only / 12” LP Mono / ca. 1977 / 30 minutes)
Reissued by Ziv International and A.A. Wonderland Records
Side Two: Bozo at the Circus
BUGS BUNNY, DAFFY DUCK, PORKY PIG, ELMER FUDD
in Warner Bros. Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies
Capitol Records CC-64 (10” 78 RPM / 3 Discs / 1947)
Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Writers: Warren Foster, Tedd Pierce, Dave Cavanaugh. Music: Billy May, Dave Cavanaugh, Van Alexander.
The character who was to become Bugs Bunny first appeared in Porky’s Hare Hunt on April 30th, 1938. And though his official studio debut would be in A Wild Hare in July (27th) of 1940, any month is perfect to give Bugs a cheer, Bronx or otherwise.
As we’ve noted several times in Spin columns, the Capitol Children’s Series of records is among of the best of its kind. For consistency of quality and enduring appeal, the only other comparable line might be Hanna-Barbera’s Cartoon Series. Both offered only a small number of titles (compared to Disney, Golden or Peter Pan’s enormous catalogs) and both series bear the stamp of a singular vision: Charles Shows for HBR and Alan Livingston for Capitol.
Also like HBR, nearly every Capitol children’s record, with the exception of those based on a specific source, like Disney films, has a similar “interview” format. The lead character sets up the location or event (a party, a tour, etc.) and meets various characters who tell jokes of sing little ditties.
That’s the case with the three stories that made up the 1947 Bugs Bunny 78 RPM set, the six stories that adorned the Bugs Bunny and His Friends LP in 1960 and the three on 1977’s half-LP reissue in the late ’70s.
The three releases mixed and matched the stories, so for our purposes, they’re listed here one-by-one. All have embeds below so you can enjoy their wonders. You’ll note lots of similarities between the audio stories and various WB cartoons—which makes sense since all of them were penned by Warren Foster and Tedd Pierce.
GIVE A LOTTA LISTEN
Bugs Bunny Meets Elmer Fudd (CC-64, J-3257 & L-6987)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Narrator, Owl, Turtle, Mocking Bird, Baby Bird).
Elmer doesn’t realize Bugs is a bunny, so Bugs “helps” him find a rabbit by interviewing animals. Note that the Mocking Bird describes Bugs in case the listener is very young or from outer space.
Daffy Duck Flies South (CC-64 & L-6987)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Air Traffic Controller).
Song: “My Name is Daffy Duck”
The little song Daffy sings sounds like the faux “Merrily We Roll Along” that is heard on all the Capitol Looney Tunes records. Here, Daffy goes for a flight, has a few mishaps and then he lands. There’s not much more to it, really, but who cares? It’s Daffy.
[PLEASE NOTE: Actually, there is more to “Daffy Duck Flies South,” but Capitol did not include it on the album. On side two, he visits “Backward Land” before returning north. The inside front cover of the 78 album illustrates this. Thanks, David!]
Porky Pig in Africa (CC-64, J-3257 & L-6987)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig, Elephant, Crane, Leopard, Baby Parrot, Ape, Rhinoceros, Baby Bird).
Song: “We Are Working on the Railroad”
This is a particular favorite because it’s an audio version of Warner’s funny travelogue cartoons, right down to the “well, I’ve been sick” line – also heard in such films as 1940‘s Wacky Wildlife, 1941’s Aviation Vacation and MGM’s 1947’s King Size Canary.
Daffy Duck’s Duck Inn (J-3257 only)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Dog); Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd).
Song: “Quack, Quack, Said the Duck”
Here is one of exceptions to Capitol’s “interview” format, in which Daffy rents a room to Elmer for a low rate then pads the bill. This premise must go back to Vaudeville. Jack Benny played the same trick on Lucy Carter and family in an episode of Here’s Lucy. The song Daffy sings in this story is longer than most in the series.
Bugs Bunny and the Grow Small Juice (J-3257 only)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck); June Foray (Mr. Bee, Queen Bee).
This is another story-driven record—and one of the best. For some reason, Daffy’s an inventor and, as the title says, he and Bugs “get small.” Nice work by June Foray as a couple of bees.
Happy Hippety Hopper (J-3257 only)
Voices: Mel Blanc Hippety Hopper, Mouse, Cat, Bulldog).
Song: “Hippety Hoppin’ Up and Down.”
It’s the oddest of these recordings because Hippety goes solo without Sylvester or Junior. There’s a generic cat and bulldog, and Blanc’s voices of the two probably should have been flipped, as neither really fits.
Bugs Bunny Meets Hiawatha (J-3257 only)
Voices: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny); June Foray (Hiawatha), Arthur Q. Bryan (Narrating as Elmer Fudd).
A variation of the Oscar-nominated Haiwatha’s Rabbit Hunt (1941), Bugs does his “help you find the rabbit” bit again, this time with June Foray’s Hiawatha, who is not as oafish as Blanc’s version of the character in the cartoon. This contains the classic gag in which Bugs sits in a stew pot enjoying the aroma of dinner until he realizes that he’s the main course.
SPIN BONUS: “Wanna Buy a Record?”
Our good pal Mark Evanier posted this on his newsfromme.com blog some time ago. Mel plays a record store owner (is his name Wallich?) and he tries to convince Billy May to buy a record. Blanc narrates most of it in first person, but a stentorian “school movie” narrator takes over when we get to the record factory and they cue the “hustle-bustle” music. Look for the prominent “Bozo Approved” logo on the record rack containing all those keen records.
Each of these recordings is a sparkling gem. Mel Blanc never fails to raise the level of even the most perfunctory of material. In most of them, he does multiple voices and bounces off other greats of voice acting, like June Foray and Arthur Q. Bryan. Almost all of these stories was released separately on 78 and/or 45 RPM discs, but not all of the single discs—like Snowbound Tweety, for example—made the transition to long-player. Of course, what would our souls soar with joy would be if every one of these stories made their way on to a CD or even iTunes. Just sayin’.