In honor of his 80th birthday, today we fill the Animation Spin bill with fowl material from three decades of Donald Duck discs.
DISNEY’S GOIN’ QUACKERS
Disneyland Records #2513 (12”33 1/3 RPM / Stereo / 1980)
CD Reissue: Walt Disney Records 60355-7 (1995)
Available for Download from Walt Disney Records
Producer: Jymn Magon. Children’s Choral Director: Betty Joyce. Running Time: 27 minutes.
Performers: Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Tony Pope (Goofy); Peter Renaday (Mickey Mouse); Phil Baron (Phillio); Will Ryan (Willio); Larry Groce, The Disneyland Children’s Sing-Along Chorus.
Songs: “Goin’ Quackers” by Will Ryan; “A Waddlin’ Crazy Guy,” “Vacuum Cleaner Hoses” by Phil Baron; “Harris the Bullfrog,” “The Fly and the Flea” by Larry Groce; “I’m In Love with a Big Blue Frog” by Lester Braunstein; “If I Only Had a Brain” by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg; “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer; “The Horses Run Around,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “The Limerick Song,” “Dueling Quackers,” “Daddy’s Whiskers,” “Throw it Out the Window” (Public Domain).
Donald Duck is a major movie and TV star, but his recording career was getting soft in the ‘60s. Along with Mickey and other major Disney cartoon characters, Donald was not seen as frequently in theaters and TV as in earlier decades, so it followed that fewer records would feature him. Most Disney Character records were compilations of previous recordings until the late ‘70s, when Mickey Mouse Disco’s unprecedented success prompted a new wave of Disney character-related records that continues today.
The producer who made it happen was Jymn Magon, who was brought in to produce a slew of Disney Little Golden Read-Alongs—very quickly. He hired the very prolific composer/performer, Larry Groce, who later sang and played on a best-selling series of Children’s Favorites albums for Disney.
Groce contributed two original funny folks songs to Goin’ Quackers, but it still needed more than a dash of comedy madness. “I can’t remember exactly how we originally connected, but Willio and Phillio—Will Ryan and Phil Baron—had sent me a copy of their album, which was fun and enchanting,” Jymn Magon recalls. “I got in touch with them about songwriting for the Goin’ Quackers album, but it quickly became clear they should be the performers on the album, as well.
“We all convened in Nashville at Odyssey Studios to record the tracks we had put together. Several tunes were public domain (“Daddy’s Whiskers,” “Turkey in the Straw,” etc.), but others were written by Will and Phil (“Goin’ Quackers,” “Vacuum Cleaner Hoses,” “A Waddling Crazy Guy,” etc.), which they also performed. All in all, it was a lot of fun to record.”
The album cover boasts funny liner notes with “critical raves” like “These guys are insane!” (The Mad Hatter) and “Kept me awake!” (Sleeping Beauty)—written by Magon, Baron and Ryan. There are several inside jokes, too, like a reference to another famous duck in “(“Mother!”) in “The Horses Run Around” and even a Star Wars nod.
“In ‘Vacuum Cleaner Hoses,’ which was turned into a music video, Phil Baron, who wrote and sang it, had slipped in a science fiction quote in the lyrics,” recalls Jymn. “I racked my brain and finally found it: ‘a wretched hive of scum and villainy’—that was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s description of Mos Eisley!”
There was also a video of the “Goin’ Quackers” song on the Donald Duck 50th Birthday TV special. At Disneyland’s Donald Duck birthday parade, kids were given a 45 RPM single and thousands of plastic quackers were given out. “Will and Phil encouraged the Disney music company to do a tie-in with the Mickey Mouse Reunion that was being filmed,” Jymn adds. “I have a picture somewhere of Will, Phil and Annette Funicello blowing on a specially made Donald duck call—and a similar photo with Ducky Nash.”
Jymn was kind enough to share a few one-of-a-kind mementos of the experience (click thumbnails below to enlarge). “Will and Phil were very involved with Quackers (also “Pardners” and the Christmas album), because I think they saw these as stepping stones to Hollywood, where they eventually moved. I received a lot of fun missives them containing suggestions regarding their songs.”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Excerpt from “Dueling Quackers”
“Goin’ Quackers” is loaded with songs that had always seemed tailor-made for comic hijinks with the characters, like “If I Only Had a Brain” for Goofy, and this well-known tune, reconfigured to drive Donald crazy and infuriated.
THE FIRST WILLIO & PHILLIO RECORD IN THE WORLD
Wizard Records W-A101 (12”33 1/3 RPM / Stereo / 1979)
Producers/Performers: Will Ryan, Phil Baron. Art Direction: W.Z. Ryan. Cover Art: J. Montgomery Elliott. Photography: Marianne Pojman. Logo: David Helton. Typography/Print Production: John Schambach. Recorded at Suma Recording and D.B. Studios, Chicago. Running Time: 33 minutes.
Songs: “Can You Live with Love?” “It Sure Feels Like Love” by Phil Baron; “All Winter Long,” “Eldorado Sue,” “I Like People,” “I Hate People,” “The Cleveland Stroll” by Will Ryan; “Can’t Stand That Disco” by Will Ryan, Phil Baron, Jim Tullio and Elliott Delman; “O Mistress Mine” by Will Ryan, Phil Baron and William Shakespeare; “Eureka!” by Will Ryan and Jim Sikela.
This is the album that impressed Jymn Magon and led to the migration of Will Ryan and Phil Baron from the Midwest to the California coast. An eclectic blend of satiric songs, ballads, rock and country-western styles, the album foreshadows music and comedy that both artists would soon bring to the Disneyland label, the Disneyland Park and numerous TV projects.
Ryan and Baron flourished in Los Angeles, both becoming top animation voice actors. Phil’s many roles include the voice of Teddy Ruxpin, the animatronic bear, as well as Piglet on Welcome to Pooh Corner. Will sang for Eeyore and voiced Rabbit and Tigger in countless animated films and radio shows, including The Little Mermaid, Adventures in Odyssey and most recently, Get a Horse! (as Pete, whom he also voices on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).
Today. Phil dedicates his trained, skilled singing voice to a power even higher than Disney: as a cantor at Valley Beth Shalom in the San Fernando Valley. In addition to voice work, Will appears on camera in the 1930’s inspired comedy starring the venerable team of “Biffle and Shooster.”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Cleveland Stroll”
Willio & Phillio were a popular touring musical act throughout the ‘70s, with concert appearances in clubs, TV shows and campuses. In their native Cleveland, they developed an especially large and loyal following. This song was recorded at the “Historic First Official Meeting of the Willio and Phillio Glee Club.”
WALT DISNEY’S DONALD DUCK AND HIS FRIENDS
Disneyland Records DQ-1212 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Mono / 1960)
Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer: Camarata. Running Time: 17 minutes.
Performers: Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket); Jimmy Macdonald (Mickey Mouse, Goofy); Gloria Wood, Robie Lester (Chip, Dale, Three Little Kittens); Dal McKennon (Uncle Scrooge).
Songs: “Chip and Dale” and “Crazy Over Daisy” by Gil (Hazel) George and Oliver Wallace “Alouette,” “Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here,” “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad,” “We Boys Will Shine Tonight,” “Clementine,” “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” “Pony Boy,” “Oh Susanna,” “Billy Boy,” “I’m a Little Prairie Flower,” “Loch Lomond,” “Kookaburra,” “Polly Wolly Doodle,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” (Public Domain).
Story: “Uncle Scrooge’s Rocket to the Moon.”
On this, one of the rare Disney Character albums of the early Disneyland Records days, Jiminy Cricket hosts a singing party honoring Donald Duck, who is constantly prevented from singing his own song before everyone else does (remember when this also happened on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour?).
Donald Duck and His Friends is a very strange album, generous in its use of characters and large number of songs, yet chintzy in its short length and the near-total absence of musical accompaniment. With few exceptions, every song is performed a capella. It’s almost as if some music tracks were planned and later canceled. There are also quite a few scouting songs (even some of old favorites with scout-related lyrics), prompting a theory that the album may have been initially conceived to tie into the Cub Scouts and Brownies.
The only times that instruments are heard are in Jiminy’s solos (probably Cliff Edwards himself on his ukulele) and a piano behind Chip and Dale. The chipmunk duo’s theme sounds like the same voice track heard on a Wonderful World of Color episode from that time period. They also sing “Crazy Over Daisy” from the Donald cartoon of the same name. The disc label calls it “Daisy, Daisy.” This melody was also heard as “Meet Me Down on Main Street.”
This album is historically important because it marks the first time the internationally renowned comic book star Scrooge McDuck was ever heard, making Dal McKennon technically the first actor to play him. Scrooge would not appear on screen until 1967’s Uncle Scrooge and Money, voiced by Bill Thompson. (Alan Young currently holds the longevity record as the voice of Scrooge since 1974.)
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
This short story was also released as a 45 RPM record. In 1972 it was used as part of the compilation album, The Mouse Factory Presents Mickey and His Friends. As you’ll hear, it cries out for some background or at least transitional music. But it’s still very cool and it even mentions the Beagle Boys—also a first for records.