ANIMATION SPIN
July 11, 2017 posted by

Decca Celebrates Walt’s “Disneyland” on Records

Here are two vintage LP collections of great songs to commemorate the birthday of Walt Disney’s original theme park in Anaheim, which has a birthday next Monday.

MUSIC FROM DISNEYLAND
Jack Pleis and His Orchestra and Chorus
Decca Records DL-8105 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Released in 1955. Running Time: 35 minutes.
Songs: When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio, by Ned Washington, Leigh Harline; Heigh-Ho Someday My Prince Will Come from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill; Baia featured in The Three Caballeros; Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? from Three Little Pigs by Frank Churchill, Ann Ronell; Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella by Al Hoffman, Mack David, Jerry Livingston; Melody Time from Melody Time; You Belong to My Heart from The Three Caballeros by Edmundo Santos, Augustin Lara; Love is a Song from Bambi by Eliot Daniel, Larry Morey; Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah from Song of the South by Allie Wrubel, Ray Gilbert.


A VISIT TO DISNEYLAND
Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians
Decca Records DL-8221 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Released in 1956. Running Time: 38 minutes.
Featuring: Dee Harless, Frank Davis, Keith & Sylvia Textor; Gordon Goodman; Joanne Wheatley, Glee Club.
Songs: The Ballad of Davy Crockett by Tom Blackburn, George Bruns; Heigh Ho, Whistle While You Work, One Song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill; When You Wish Upon A Star from Pinocchio, by Ned Washington, Leigh Harline; Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? from Three Little Pigs, by Frank Churchill, Ann Ronell; Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly) from So Dear to My Heart, by Eliot Daniel, Larry Morey; Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah from Song of the South, by Allie Wrubel, Ray Gilbert; A Whale of a Tale from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Norman Gimbel, Al Hoffman; Tico-Tico featured in Saludos Amigos, by Zequinha de Abreu, Aloysio de Oliveira, Ervin Drake; Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo from Cinderella, by Al Hoffman, Mack David, Jerry Livingston.

On the very first broadcast of his Disneyland anthology TV series in 1954, Walt Disney said, You’ll find that Disneyland the place and Disneyland the TV show are all part of the same. He was establishing Disneyland as the focal point for all of his entertainment, which could also be said for the eventual presence of the Mickey Mouse Club in the park and on TV, as well as the record company bearing the name. The idea, at least at the time, was for the public to consider Disneyland to be the source of Disney magic, since it was accessible to them and the studio in Burbank was not.

These two Decca record albums, which were also released in various single 45, 78 and 10-inch LPs, sustain this duality. Are the songs from the TV show or from the park, or does it matter? Jack Pleis Music from Disneyland was released in 1955, just before the TV show had really taken off, so it skews slightly earlier in the Disney timeline, from Three Little Pigs (1933) to Melody Time (1948) with no TV-related material, even though the cover suggests Sleeping Beauty Castle, Tinker Bell is prominent and the liner notes tie the album to the TV show.

Of the two conductors, Pleis is the less recognizable name as Fred Waring was a TV and radio personality as well as a musician. But Pleis enjoyed a long and successful career working with music legends like Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis, Jr. Coincidentally, he was mentored by Disney Legend Tutti Camarata, who became the musical and A&R director of Disneyland Records only months after this album was released.

Fred Warings television show often featured Disney songs. Perhaps the most beloved of these was his 1951 Alice in Wonderland tie-in show with Kathryn Beaumont, Sterling Holloway, Mary Blair sets and Walt himself. Waring was also an avid comic strip collector and was even the financial backer of the first electric blender (yes, it was named for him).

A Visit from Disneyland is also significant because it contains all 20 verses of The Ballad of Davy Crockett. The songs on this album cover a longer period than the Pleis LP, from Three Little Pigs (1933) to Lady and the Tramp (1955), even including A Whale of a Tale from 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. What a difference a year made during a very busy decade for Disney!

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Melody Time – Jack Pleis and His Orchestra

Not a song that appears on very many Disney compilation albums, this is an instrumental version of the song that played over the titles of the 1948 Disney package film. We explored some of the records relating to it in previous Spins.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Tico Tico – Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians

Decca included this as a Disney song even though it was a popular tune by many other artists before and after this release. The Andrews Sisters had used the same English lyrics in 1944, and organist Ethel Smith enjoyed great success with it both on records and on the movie screen, when she played it in 1944’s Bathing Beauty. Disney presented it instrumentally in 1942’s Saludos Amigos during the Aquarela do Brasil sequence.

7 Comments

  • One of the great joys of collecting Disney music is the number of albums, tapes, CDs, etc, that are designed to evoke the magic of Disneyland and the other Disney theme parks. Every few years it seems there is a new “official” album of Disneyland music. The two releases presented here are very early examples of this type of album. While neither one ties in directly to the theme park, they capture the music associated with Disney in those magical days of the mid-50’s.

    The “Melody Time” selection featured here is one of the best covers of this piece that I have heard. The orchestration is gloriously lush and immensely rich. “Tico Tico” on the Fred Waring album is similarly delightful. The Latin American fascination wasn’t limited to Disney, but is in evidence in many of the films, especially musicals, of the early 40’s. Thanks for the reminder of Ethel Smith’s appearance in “Bathing Beauty.” That’s a film I will have to watch again some time soon. Of course, my ultimate memory of “Tico Tico” is in “Aquerela do Brasil,” one of the great surreal cartoons of all time.

    It would be interesting to trace the history of the various albums devoted to Disneyland over the years. I know you have posted on many of them here already. It’s always a welcome topic, especially during the summer months, when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of….Disneyland!

  • Jack Pleis Music from Disneyland was released in 1955, just before the TV show had really taken off, so it skews slightly earlier in the Disney timeline, from Three Little Pigs (1933) to Melody Time (1948) with no TV-related material, even though the cover suggests Sleeping Beauty Castle, Tinker Bell is prominent and the liner notes tie the album to the TV show.

    What about “Cinderella” which came out in 1950? The album highlights two songs from that film.

    • Sorry, I was referring to Sleeping Beauty Castle as it related to appearing on the TV show, which I’m assuming that the cover art is tying to the TV show because of Tinker Bell, but I’m frequently mistaken, as my readers well know — and I appreciate the careful reading!

  • As probably one of the few people in my age group who really likes Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, thanks much for this post. At one time, I was corresponding regularly with MCA Records (they’re Universal Music now) about reissuing some Waring material on CD. This album was one of the ones I wanted them to do. However, MCA kept replying back with some nonsense about how the CDs wouldn’t sell. Which was undoubtedly true, but how much poorer would our media landscape be if nothing had ever gotten reissued that “wouldn’t sell”?

    • Those who still believe vintage “won’t sell” might want to check the research on millennials, who are breaking the rules of the last half century of marketing because they aren’t being “told” what to like. They make their own choices. If something is great, cool, interesting, unique, or whatever, they enjoy it — regardless or what year it was made, mono or stereo, color or black and white.

    • That is true, although I hate being called a millennial. For instance, after reading your friend Tim Hollis’ Toons in Toyland” (and after finishing collecting the whole “Complete Peanuts” series), I decided to start reading “Lil’ Abner” which I find very entertaining even if not many people my age is aware of this “Golden Age” comic.

    • As for Waring missing in the CD era-for all of the Christmas compilations that gutted the market in the ’90s,it is strange that neither MCA or Capitol found spaces for Waring material. His stuff defied the “lounge” or romance Christmas collections,but there were still tracks that could have been utilized. Sony certainly found many ways to recycle now forgotten artists onto comps. Add to this,Reader’s Digest,Time-Life and other mail order outfits put out tons of material from the ’40s and ’50s as Grandma & Grandpa got one of those new-fangled CD players to finally put their 78RPM discs to rest. Waring was involved with Sinatra & Crosby on two Reprise projects:Christmas & U.S.A. patriotism. Only the Sinatra material(with Waring in a few spots) made it to CD.

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