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.
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.
The 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.
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.
“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.
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”.