Toei Animation’s 1966 feature received deluxe treatment on LP, featuring a score by legendary TV composer Milton DeLugg that evokes movie matinees of the 1960s.
GULLIVER’S TRAVELS BEYOND THE MOON
Original Sound Track Recording
Mainstream Records S-4001 (Stereo) (12” 33 1/3 RPM) (Also released in Mono)
Released in 1965. A&R Producer: Bob Shad. Music Supervisor: George Brackman. Mastering: Gene Thompson. Cover Design: Jack Lonshein. Liner Notes: Ann Lipman. Production Coordinator: Mavis Barton. Album Coordinator: Elena Picone. Running Time: 26 minutes.
Singing Voices: Stephen DeLugg (Ricky); Bob Harter (Robots, Sylvester); Bob Haymes (Colonel).
Happy Snappy Songs: “Think Tall (Main Title),” “Deedle-Dee-Dum,” “Gulliver’s March,” “Rise Robots, Rise,” “Song of the Earth,” “Think Tall (End Title)” by Milton DeLugg, Anne DeLugg.
Instrumentals: “Space Walk,” “Keupie/Deedle-Dee-Dum,” “Ursa Minor,” “Rise Robots, Rise,” “Lost and Found” by Milton DeLugg.
According to The Animated Movie Guide by our own Jerry Beck, Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon (Garibā no Uchū Ryokō) was an attempt by the Toei animation company to crack the international animation market with a film that followed the basic Disney model in place of traditional Asian tales—with a hefty helping of outer space sci-fi adventure so popular with kids in the mid-century.
For the English language version, the dialogue and music was provided by many of the same New York talents who provided this service for most of the live-action West German children’s features produced for U.S. matinees by Childhood Productions and narrated by TV personality Paul Tripp. Almost all featured songs by Milton and Anne DeLugg with soundtrack albums issued by either Golden or RCA Camden Records. In the case of Gulliver, Mainstream Records (primarily a jazz label) released the soundtrack LP in a deluxe gatefold package, suggesting a higher-tier project.
Though the film is troubled by several flaws, including overlength, a meandering storyline and awkward comedic attempts, there are also some very impressive graphics, particularly in the Star of Hope sequences. Historically significant is the involvement of a young inbetweener on the film named Hayao Miyazaki, who attracted attention at Toei for his work on the latter portion.
Gulliver succeeds more as an album than as a film–especially in stereo–one reason being DeLugg’s mastery of recorded and live music. Perhaps the best song is the very catchy “Think Tall.” Sung by a children’s chorus, it suggests one of Milton DeLugg’s more infamous other credits, “Hooray for Santy Claus” from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (another cubic zirconia gem of ’60s and ’70s kiddie matinees).
Mr. and Mrs. DeLugg’s other songs are interesting, though not quite as catchy as “Think Tall” (most of the songs came off as somewhat extraneous in the finished film) but the musical score and orchestrations are delightfully infused with solid gold groovy goodness. There’s a lot of Herb Alpert-style brass, rubber-band-bouncy bass and tambourines that would make Davy Jones and Betty Cooper proud.
Milton DeLugg (1918–2015) was an especially familiar name to TV viewers. During the time of this film’s release, he preceded Doc Severinsen as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show bandleader, before the host moved the show from New York to Los Angeles. DeLugg also composed several Hit Parade tunes, including Perry Como’s “Hoop-Dee-Doo” and Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky,” as well as an instrumental called “Roller Coaster” that became the theme to What’s My Line.
He became famous all over again in the ’70s as the bandleader for TV’s notorious Gong Show (“Milton DeLugg and his band with a thug”) as well as the musical director for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—a position he held until he was 96 years old.
DeLugg’s signature brass style, a staple of The Gong Show, is heard throughout Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon. Bob Harter, who is heard on the album as an evil robot, Sylvester the crow and the person who sings, “Believe you me” in “Think Tall,” was an East Coast equivalent to the West Coast’s Thurl Ravenscroft, doing bass vocals for countless records, films and TV shows, including appearing both on camera and off for the Rankin/Bass feature, The Daydreamer. (Not heard on the LP are two of the voice cast members, Darla Hood—yes, the same Darla from the Our Gang comedies, who plays the Princess; and Herb Duncan, who voices the dog, Pudge. Duncan was also the voice of Muggy-Doo from The Milton the Monster Show and George on Golden Records’ musical version of The Jetsons.)
The son of the composer and lyricist, Stephen DeLugg, sings and speaks for the young hero, Ricky. Voicing the toy soldier is Bob Haymes, brother of the popular crooner Dick Haymes. The film itself fell into public domain and can be found in dollar DVD bins. Despite its shortcomings, it would be great to see a good print of this film, if only to better enjoy the art direction and a clearer soundtrack.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Think Tall” – Main Title and End Title
Also released as a single, the main title is every bit the “happy snappy song” promised on the album’s back cover. The end title version, which is not presented completely in the film, is equally peppy, with a generous amount of reverb and hand clapping that conjures up visions of drive-ins and Saturday matinee refreshment ads.