ANIMATION SPIN
August 26, 2014 posted by

Bugs Bunny Breaks a Sweat

In today’s column, we listen to a classic recording of Bugs Bunny’s race against Cecil Turtle, with Mel Blanc; on another LP, Bugs takes a cruise to Fort Lauderdale, without Mel.

BugsBunny-And-TheTortoise

BUGS BUNNY AND THE TORTOISE
A Capitol Record Reader DBX-93 (Two 10” 78 RPM Discs / Mono / 1947); (Two 7” 45 RPM Discs / Mono / 1947);
12” 33 1/3 RPM LP Reissues: L-6818RR (with Bozo Under the Sea / 1962); L-6962 (with Bozo and His Rocket Ship / 1975).

Producer: Alan Livingston. Writers: Warren Foster, Tedd Pierce. Music: Billy May. Recorded in Hollywood on November 28 and December 3, 1947. Running Time: 12 minutes.
Voices: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Tortoise, Daffy Duck, Henery Hawk, Taxi Driver); Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd); Stan Freberg (Little Duck).
Song: “Sing a Song of Rabbits.”

Similar to the 1941 Warner Bros. cartoon, Tortoise Beats Hare, this audio version of the Aesop’s Fable takes several departures from Dave Monahan’s film story, but adds on several Capitol Records-style touches.

Bugs_Tortoise_Record_Reader2Like the film, Bugs is spurred on by reading that the tortoise beats the hare. In the cartoon, he read it on the title card (a very funny bit in which Bugs mispronounces the credited names), but here, he learns it from a book. Determined to set things right, Bugs challenges a tortoise (not referred to by name). Each of them comes up with ways to get the best of his opponent as Elmer Fudd narrates the story and Daffy Duck plays sports announcer.

Unlike several Capitol children’s records of the day, Bugs Bunny and the Tortoise has a more focused script. Encounters with call-and-response critters along the way—a standard formula of all the Bozo titles and most others in the series—is not as forced in this case. This album came very early in the series, so it may have benefitted from the more rigid “meet-greet-gag-next” format of later albums, entertaining and beautifully produced as they were.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Bugs Bunny and the Tortoise”
Someone on YouTube did a wonderful job of combining the complete recording with the art from the book. Capitol Record Readers didn’t always have text, just illustrations by Warner artists Bob McKimson and Richard Thomas. When this was reissued as one side of an LP without a book, the editor left the page turning signal in, but there was no book.


Bugs-Bunny-Exercise

BUGS BUNNY EXERCISE AND ADVENTURE ALBUM
Kid Stuff Records KSB-1107 (Stereo)
(12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / 1983)

Writer/Producers: Pat McBride and Dana Walden. Running Time: 22 minutes.
Songs: “What’s Up Doc? Bunny Hop,” “Crow’s Nest Song,” “Tweety’s Tune,” “Heave Ho,” “I’d Rather Be a Frog,” “Roll in the Mud with Fudd,” “Did the Devil Get Your Nose,” “Coconuts and Cats,” “What’s Up Doc? Bunny Hop (Reprise).”

Kid Stuff released a substantial number of children’s records in the ‘80s, most of them recorded in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area with local talent. The voices were usually limited to two actors playing all the characters. Other than producers and writers, few others were mentioned in the album credits.

This particular album might be called “Bugs Bunny Goes to Gymboree.” There is a bit of continuity about the Warner Bros. characters taking a cruise (that would be the “adventure”) while the narrator and vocalists handled the songs (that’s the “exercise” part). The actor doing all the Warner Bros. voices, some better than others, may be Richard Andrews, a very versatile performers who did all the puppets on Miami’s long-running children’s program, The Skipper Chuck Show. Or it could be the writer/producers.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Roll in the Mud with Fudd”
Couldn’t resist including this song, since it’s so bizarre. This was the era of the Jane Fonda Workout records and videos and several children’s records did the same thing, including Disney with Mousercise. The perky narrator encourages youngsters in their activities during all the songs on the album, a format common to such records.

12 Comments

  • Thanks Greg. I had the BB&TT 45 when I was a kid in the 50s. Even at 7 or 8, I was struck by how this record actually looked like the theatrical shorts I was devouring. Especially when few other products (comics, toys) ever did.

    Got lots of spins back in the day.

    Beat up copy, but nice upsize scans here: https://archive.org/details/BugsBunnyAndTheTortoise

  • Greg, is there any documentary evidence that Stan Freberg is the duck? If it’s just a guess, then it’s incorrect. Dave Barry told me he did a duck voice for Capitol. Then again, they may both have done duck characters on different records.

    • Slowing the duck’s voice down reveals… well, it almost sounds like three people, none of them Freberg. It sounds as if one person was quacking and sneezing, one did the first line, and one did the second line. I can’t identify the voice (es?) but maybe you or one of the other readers can.

    • Mike — thanks for slowing it down, because you may be right. The first voice doesn’t sound like the second voice, and I cannot say for sure that the quacks are Clarence Nash — they sure sound like him, but there were others who could do the voice fairly well.

      Keith — No documentation (I wish!) just an uneducated guess. Sounded like a Goofy Gopher to me.

  • Greg:
    The BB and TT tale was really good,specially with the addition of Arthur Q.Bryan and Stan Freberg,just like a regular Looney Toon.If Capitol isn’t interested in releasing the series again,they surely could license them to Rhino or Kid Warner or some other label!

    • The current owners of the library are Universal Music Group, I suppose by their logic this stuff is unusable. Arguably licensing or outright selling those recordings to Warner Bros. would seem like a logical ideal if they don’t intend to do much with it at all.

  • Capitol Record Readers didn’t always have text, just illustrations by Warner artists Bob McKimson and Richard Thomas. When this was reissued as one side of an LP without a book, the editor left the page turning signal in, but there was no book.

    That was kinda odd (not dumb, but odd), I suppose it was extra work to cut out every time that horn goes off, still a neat device for a “readalong” besides, but sad they couldn’t replicate that for an LP.

    Couldn’t resist including this song, since it’s so bizarre. This was the era of the Jane Fonda Workout records and videos and several children’s records did the same thing, including Disney with Mousercise. The perky narrator encourages youngsters in their activities during all the songs on the album, a format common to such records.

    Explains my childhood listening to this crap, really.

    • Of course, Chris, where Bugs Bunny and Jane Fonda beg to differ mutually with one another is their view on war..I recall both these records..

    • For me, it was either aerobics or Flashdance!

  • Is that Clarence Nash as the sneezing duck?

  • I kind of like the record’s outcome of the race better than the one in the cartoons. I’m guessing that for very young children, Bugs is the sympathetic character even if he can be a little too overconfident or overreaching. A downbeat, ironic, or somewhat cynical “You can’t win” sort of ending that older audiences might appreciate as just a funny twist on what might be expected would be lost on the little kids. The record’s ending also works because Bugs isn’t overtly cheating and remains sympathetic, while the tortoise does resort to questionable means.

  • Longtime Capitol Records arranger and bandleader Billy May substituted a different, but similar-sounding theme as an introduction to those Capitol kiddie records with Warner Bros. characters. I suspect that was done so Capitol could avoid paying royalties for “When The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down”.

    – William Carroll
    Denham Springs, Louisiana

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