ANIMATION SPIN
July 14, 2015 posted by

“Bugs Bunny Sings” On Capitol Records

To get a head start on celebrating Bugs Bunny’s July 27 birthday, here are some vintage musical gems from the golden age of 78 RPM children’s records.

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BUGS BUNNY SINGS
Featuring Mel Blanc
DBS-3007 (Two 10” 78 RPM Discs / With Gatefold / Also on 7” 45 RPM)
Reissued on CD and download on the 2007 album Mel Blanc: That’s All Folks

Released in 1950; Recorded May 11 & June 29, 1950. Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Musical Arranger/Conductor: Billy May. Running Time: 13 minutes.
Voice: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety, Sylvester).
Songs: I’m Glad That I’m Bugs Bunny” by Warren Foster, Mike Maltese, Billy May; “Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody” by Warren Foster, Mike Maltese; “Yosemite Sam”, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat” by Alan Livingston, Billy May.

The Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies character songs created for Capitol were endearing and enduring ditties. Composed and arranged by the great Billy May, they also had the advantage of lyrics by Capitol executive Alan Livingston–longtime husband of actor Nancy Olson (Sunset Boulevard, Pollyanna) and creator of Bozo the Clown–and legendary Warner story artists Warren Foster and Mike Maltese (probably Tedd Pierce, too, though he is not represented on this particular album).

They’re lengthy tunes with loads of verses. A little over three minutes of sound could fit on a ten-inch 78 RPM disc, so why not use as much as possible? Capitol often released songs like these as singles on 78 and 45 RPM, but Bugs Bunny Sings was a nice way to package four songs with special illustration, like Capitol’s sister two-disc 78 set, Bozo Sings.

DaffyRhapsodyPoster copyThe breakout song was “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat”, a hefty seller on Capitol and other record labels, as well as on sheet music. Of all the songs in the series, “Puddy Tat” received the most exposure on subsequent vinyl and CD collections, including this Mel Blanc tribute disc that also includes the other three Bugs Bunny Sings selections and many other Blanc treasures.

For some reason, the most likely song to be released as a single was never produced. The song, “What’s Up Doc?” from the 1950 short of the same name, seems prime fodder for its own full-fledged record. Instead, the song is sung briefly by Bugs on the Capitol Record Reader set, Bugs Bunny in Storyland. My guess: every song that appeared on Capitol had to originate with Capitol, and “What’s Up Doc?” was Warner’s song and would require license fees.

The staying power of these songs was made abundantly clear once again in 2011, when director Matthew O’Callaghan lovingly transformed the “Puddy Tat” record into a Annie-nominated, CG-animated short. The following year, Daffy’s Rhapsody hit the big screen in another short, this one an Annecy Cristal nominee.

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GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Bugs Bunny Sings”
Here are the four songs, shellac surface noise and all, from the two-disc 78 RPM set, along with the illustrations from inside the gatefold cover.

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“I TAUT I TAW A PUDDY TAT” & OTHER SONGS
Featuring Mel Blanc
Capitol / Wonderland / Ziv Records L-6963 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Side One Only)
(Side Two: ”Bozo Sings”)

Released in 1975; Recorded May 11 & June 29, 1950. Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Musical Arranger/Conductor: Billy May. Running Time: 12 minutes.
Voices: Mel Blanc (Tweety, Sylvester, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig; Bonnie Baker (Petunia Pig).
Songs: “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat”, “Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody”, “Yosemite Sam”, “That’s All Folks” by Alan Livingston, Warren Foster, Mike Maltese, Billy May.

To my knowledge, Capitol never released a comprehensive LP album of all the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s. Capitol did offer a few compilations that included Warner songs, but none were exclusively or comprehensively Looney Tunes. When a fresh crop of Capitol Children’s LP reissues showed up in the mid-‘70s–first distributed by Ziv International (the folks who brought us TV’s Peter Gunn and Science Fiction Theater) and then by Wonderland Records (formerly Golden Records)–the contents of the original LP’s were rearranged and/or reduced in quantity on the new records.

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None of the first 1975 Capitol children’s reissues presented two LP sides featuring the same characters. With Woody Woodpecker’s Picnic, you got Sparky and the Talking Train. With Bugs Bunny in Storyland, you got Bozo at the Dog Show. Bozo was the most frequent resident of the “B” sides. This changed later in the decade, when Capitol/Wonderland gave us albums as Jack Benny Plays “The Bee” (renamed Jack Benny Fiddles with The Classics) as well as some titles, like 1978’s Mickey and the Beanstalk/Mickey’s Birthday Party, offering Disney material on both sides instead of just one.

Like the other 1975 Capitol/Ziv/Wonderland reissues, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat” and Other Songs, contains only four Warner songs on Side One, with four four Pinto Colvig Bozo songs on Side Two. And for some reason, the album leaves out Bugs Bunny himself. Perhaps “I’m Glad That I’m Bugs Bunny” was replaced with “That’s All, Folks” because the cover art was picked up from the single release of “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat”, picturing Sylvester and Tweety on the cover.

Though it would have been preferable to own reissues of the complete Capitol Children’s Series LP’s with all their materials intact, all the Capitol recordings are such outstanding examples of the golden age of 78 RPM children’s records, anything from the catalogue was welcome. If only EMI would consider a compilation in the near future—or perhaps license a comprehensive CD album and/or download through a private label—maybe all this fine entertainment will see the light of day again. But alas, the costly legalities alone on such a project must be daunting.

“C’mon, Smokey! Get outta dat lamp quick and start makin’ with da new reckids of all dat great ol’ stuff so’s I can play ‘em on my music box!”

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“That’s All, Folks”
I always thought it was June Foray singing for Petunia on this 1948 platter, which would be highly unique and certainly wonderful. But it’s actually big band singer “Wee” Bonnie Baker (“Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!”) performing this tune with Mel Blanc as Porky. Baker has another cartoon connection, with Walter Lantz Productions in several “Chilly Willy the Penguin” shorts, most likely in hopes of striking gold with another character-related hit to equal “The Woody Woodpecker Song”.

17 Comments

  • I used to think it was Foray as Petunia, too. But there was an even weirder use of that song. In the late 1970s, the traveling BUGS BUNNY FOLLIES stage show (a sort of half-pint version of DISNEY ON PARADE) mostly used the old Capitol recordings as its soundtrack. Without a costumed Petunia Pig, for some reason, when this routine was performed on stage, the female role was taken by …. GRANNY? Singing in a little girl’s voice? And she’s wanting to have children with Porky? Tunes don’t get any loonier than that, folks!

  • “What’s Up Doc?” preexists the cartoon of the same name. It’s used extensively in Stage Door Cartoon, and as the opening title cue in Herr Meets Hare and The Unruly Hare. It’d be fascinating to learn why it resurfaced years later, and if the lyrics preexisted the 1950 cartoon too.

    • Warners may have wanted a ‘theme’ for Bugs, just as Scott Bradley had finally given Tom & Jerry their own musical opening theme in 1948, Walter Lantz had hit on “The Woody Woodpecker Song” the same year, and other studios had specific musical pieces for their starring characters.

      Stalling had a habit of remembering and re-working everything and had obviously been enamored of this piece just prior to Warners going the extended opening credits in 1945, so he may have just decided to revive and re-work that music to fit the extended credits, while Foster added the lyrics for McKimson’s cartoon.

    • There was another “What’s Up Doc?” song that was released to children’s records that uses a different melody and different lyrics from the one used in the cartoons. If I remember correctly, it used Mel Blanc’s “What’s Up, Doc?” in the Bugs Bunny voice but then the rest of the lyrics were sung by a different professional singer. I have also heard another recording of “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat” that used a male and female singer and also a voice (which may or may not have been Mel Blanc’s) for Tweety…but there was no Sylvester voice.

      It’s been some time, but the lyrics I remember from the Bugs Bunny song are “That’s Bugs Bunny, and that’s his way of saying hello…now I’d like to give some good advice for free…you can say ‘what’s up doc’ as easily as he…’ (at which point it burst into a series of “What’s Up, Doc?’s” that concluded the recording).

      I remember these from a compilation album titled “Ten Top Children’s Hits” which would have to have been released some time in the late 50’s or very early 60’s.

    • Thad — so the lyrics were introduced in the 1950 cartoon, right?

      Frederick — the “What’s Up Doc?” song you’re recalling is from a Little Golden Record, with Mike Stewart, Anne Lloyd and the Sandpipers. Gilbert Mack voiced Bugs on that one.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wZdreXSVNw

    • “What’s Up Doc?” is also heard in My Dream Is Yours, the Doris Day movie with a Bugs Bunny dream sequence directed by Freleng. The young son of Day’s character is a huge Bugs Bunny fan, and at one point in the movie he plays a record of “What’s Up Doc?”. I wonder if it was a custom-made record?

  • “Bugs Bunny Meets Hiawatha”- bet that was a record adaption of the 1941 Bugs vehicle “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt”, Greg.

  • Oh, there is so much great toonful music in Warner Bros. cartoons in general, and I’m not just talking about incidental soundtrack music, although there is a lot of that, too. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (of course), but one could feasibly come up with a box set around the songs in Warner Bros cartoons, beginning with the themes for BOSKO and BUDDY cartoons on up through the characters that are still cherished today. Oh, and one other observation–it is interesting how the characters are kinda toned down since these records were aimed at children, but I can only imagine what the DAFFY DUCK song would have sounded like if it were given its own cartoon. I guess I missed the Mel Blanc disc; I didn’t know anything about that one, but I would have eagerly bought it just to hear what else was used.

  • I remember hearing “Wee” Bonnie Baker singing the Second Version of the Chilly Willy theme song (I’m Chilly Willy the Penguin, Oh Gee, Oh Gosh I’m Chilly All The Time….)
    Also Mel Blanc had a CD with his greatest hits that includes Yosemite Sam,I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat, and other including Pussycat Parade,Toot Toot Toosie (as Al Jolson and Porky Pig in a VO cameo),Woody Woodpecker (since he was the original voice of Woody Woodpecker) Barney Google and some oddities like There’s a Hole In the Iron Curtin and Grandfather’s Will.q

  • When a fresh crop of Capitol Children’s LP reissues showed up in the mid-‘70s–first distributed by Ziv International (the folks who brought us TV’s Peter Gunn and Science Fiction Theater)

    I often get this company confused with another ZIV International best known for trying to peddle stale TV toons like Clutch Cargo, Spunky & Tadpole and even Japanese cartoons to an already different TV environment of the 1980’s. Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the same company that reissued these (assuming if anyone really knows at this point or not).

    If only EMI would consider a compilation in the near future—or perhaps license a comprehensive CD album and/or download through a private label—maybe all this fine entertainment will see the light of day again. But alas, the costly legalities alone on such a project must be daunting.

    I bet. Sad really since I’d love to have vinyl pressings of these somehow.

    • Frederic Ziv sold his original syndication company (which produced “Sea Hunt,” “Highway Patrol,” “The Cisco Kid” and other shows) to United Artists around 1960 or so. Ziv International was another firm.

    • Right about Frederick Ziv and his shows, but wrong (in the main article) about “Peter Gunn.” That show was another fine product of Official Films (yes, the same), who devoted their energies increasingly to TV production and syndication in the 50’s. Some of Official’s other series included “My Hero” (Bob Cummings), “Decoy” (Beverly Garland), and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (Richard Greene) and “Mr. Lucky” (John Vivyan.)

  • Here’s a ZIV International label: http://www.songofthesouth.net/memorabilia/records/images/13-r.jpg. Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, and the english version of “The Invisible Man” (among others) were all distributed by Official Films Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Films

  • I always felt that the 1950 cartoon had lyrics specially written by Foster, who had begun in the New York popular music industry and had been a song plugger. I believe that the story of a biographical look at Bugs’s life was thought of as a bit “special” and so the song was a high priority. However, I don’t know if the original music (heard earlier in STAGE DOOR CARTOON and others) was actually titled “What’s Up Doc?” Would Daniel Goldmark or anyone else with the WB cue sheet info. know? I have Dan’s dissertation which has a good amount of information on the music cues but it’s packed away at present. Incidentally I never thought it was June Foray doing the record or the Chilly cartoons, because (and June is the first to admit it) she can’t sing in key…Lantz hired her in 1942 to record the final Oswald, THE EGG CRACKER SUITE, and he had to spend more money hiring another woman to do June’s singing parts.

  • Just thought of this right now, “I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat” as interpret by the British comedy duo Morecambe & Wise….
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAX43Y9wRTg

  • Greg: Re the “What’s Up, Doc?” song lyric, it did not originate in the 1950 cartoon. Bugs first sang the song early in the Capitol Record Reader set BUGS BUNNY IN STORYLAND. According to Jack Mirtle in his book about the Capitol children’s records, that track was recorded on April 21st, 1949.

    @ Frederick Wiegand: The other “What’s Up, Doc?” song you’re thinking of, from that compilation lp, was originally released by itself as a Little Golden Record around 1954. Mel Blanc’s voice is nowhere on that record. If the “Puddy Tat” version you refer to was done at about the same time, Mel would not have been on that one, either. He couldn’t have made them because they were recorded while Mel was still under exclusive contract to Capitol Records. That five-year contract did not expire until April 1st, 1956. That other “What’s Up, Doc?” song was written and composed especially for Little Golden Records by Alec Wilder (music) and Marshall Barer (lyrics). Those two men may not have been exclusive to Little Golden Records, but they both created a lot of the special material release on that label. As for the Warner Brothers cartoon character voices on those records, I recently read somewhere that they were done by regular Golden Records singer / actor Gilbert Mack. Not sure if that’s true, but in all my years of collecting and researching, nobody else’s name has come forth as the anonymous performer.

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