ANIMATION SPIN
December 3, 2013 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Hanna-Barbera “HBR” Christmas Records

In 1965, Hanna-Barbera released the first two albums to feature their characters in a holiday setting on their fledgling record label—at least on the beautifully rendered album jackets. On the records themselves, the characters were limited to two, though there were some less obvious cartoon connections.

HBRmerry300

MERRY CHRISTMAS FEATURING THE HANNA-BARBERA ORGANS AND CHIMES
Hanna-Barbera Records HLP-2030 (12” LP / Mono / also released as 4-song 45 EP) Catalog Number 2032.

Released in 1965. Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Cover Art Direction: Harvard C. Pennington. Layout: Tony Sgroi. Cover Art: Paul Julian. Hand Lettering: Robert B. Schaefer. Running Time: 24 minutes.

Songs & Carols: “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bells,” “The 12 Days of Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Oh Holy Night,” “Green Sleeves (What Child is This?),” “We Three Kings”, “Deck The Halls”, “Silent Night.”

1965 was a great year for baby boomers to get records as holiday gifts. Disney was riding high with Mary Poppins and related releases, The Chipmunks had two fine LPs that year (as well as their Grammy-winning Beatles disc from the previous one) and the fledgling Hanna-Barbera had just launched their “cartoon series” line.

Many an excited young listener might have been waiting for Fred Flintstone to sing “Christmas is My Favorite Time of Year” or “Dino the Dinosaur” on the record – or any character voice for that matter – but it was not to be. The album “starred” The Hanna-Barbera Organs and Chimes, a generic term for studio musicians performing two holiday songs and ten traditional carols.

Personally, I honestly was thrilled anyway back then and now. I was intoxicated with the entire HBR oeuvre, having already started to wear out the first few albums I had already begged my parents to buy for me. Merry Christmas was under the tree in my house in 1966 and I have played it every year since (I had to replace it two times). It came from Hanna-Barbera, it had the cool blue springy-looking label and that was fine by me.

Objectively, the musicians hit more than a few sour notes. My guess is the budget for this $1.98 suggested retail disc was so low that the session time allowed about two shots at each selection, all of which are public domain. The back cover advertises the Thomas Organ very likely to defer additional costs.

Buy hey, if you were a ‘60s kid, you might have filled in the blanks and assumed Fred made the mistakes.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Jingle Bells”
Imagine if Rosie or Uniblab were the equivalents of the “Music Choice” cable channel and here you go. The arrangement has a spacey, pre-Moog feel. I also liked to watch the record spin on my player because this track had a neat way of seeming to “move” because of the groove pattern. I took pretty much whatever animattion H-B would toss my way.

IT’S THE HOLIDAYS! GO AHEAD…HAVE ANOTHER HELPING…
“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
Do you suppose Hoyt Curtin used the Thomas organ for some of the H-B cartoon library music? This cut reminds me of the time Fred Flintstone received his high school diploma.


pebblescmas-300

HANNA-BARBERA PRESENTS PEBBLES AND BAMM-BAMM SINGING SONGS OF CHRISTMAS
Hanna-Barbera Records HLP-2030 (12” LP / Mono); Catalog Number 2033
Reissue: New Line Records NLR-39163 (CD / Mono & Stereo)

Released in 1965; Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Cover Art Direction: Harvard C. Pennington. Layout: Bob Singer. Cover Art: Richard H. Thomas. Running Time: 27 minutes.
Voices: Rebecca Page (Pebbles); Ricky Page (Bamm-Bamm); The Hanna-Barbera Singers.
Songs & Carols: “The Little Drummer Boy,” It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “12 Days of Christmas,” “We Three Kings,” Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Snow Flake.”

The Flintstones episode “No Biz Like Showbiz” was a tie-in to the new HBR label. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, in the singing style Fred was dreaming about, were featured on two HBR albums and two singles, including the same version of “Let the Sun Shine In” that was performed in the episode.

Songs of Christmas had a bigger budget than Merry Christmas, with more musicians and The Hanna-Barbera Singers (a studio group that, depending on the session, included Ricky Page, Al Capps, Stan Farber and Ron Hicklin) as backup. Several songs required copyright payments.

This was also the one and only HBR LP reissued on CD in its entirety. New Line Records did a magnificent job of restoring the album cover, including the notes on the back (Scully Lathe and all) with some nice treatments of the label design on the inside. Two a capella carols were even in stereo.

There was even a website for the reissue [pebblesandbammbammchristmas.com] that now goes to kidswb.com. Alas, no further HBR reissues emerged. But please, if anyone can restart the effort, the cheers from fans would stretch into the universe and fill the black hole in space (to paraphrase Tony Orlando’s Quote of the Year).

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Snow Flake”
Neither of these two albums credit the producers or arrangers, though Al Capps and Stan Larry Goldberg were probably involved. Without the jingle bells, this moody, haunting original piece could have accompanied a subdued moment in a Beach Party movie or surfing documentary.

9 Comments

  • “The Hanna-Barbera Organ and Chimes”?!? In all the years I was there, the only organ and chimes I ever heard mentioned were Joe Barbera’s — usually mentioned by female temps.

  • I remember at one point, Rhino’s Handmade label was going to release the HB Records onto CD. Two LPs per CD. But that seemed to fall apart after there was restructuring within Rhino. So close yet so far away. This was around the time they released the “Josie and the Pussycats” soundtrack, using the Capitol Records recordings. Next up was supposed to be Banana Splits, and then the HB records.

    • I know about Rhino Handmade because I was at a meeting with the person who was planning to do it. I brought a stack of HBR LPs and spread them across their conference table just to see the great covers.

      It was oh, so close to happening! There’s always hope, I guess.

    • Lord knows I would’ve loved that, sad it was never to be.

  • Does anyone remember The Dynatones’ “Fife Piper” on the HBR label? I ran out and bought that 45 around… oh, 1966 I think. For anyone interested, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn4r72mBAk, including a picture of the HBR label. My buddy said they sounded like the Zombies less-talented younger brothers.

    • The other forgotten relics of the HBR label!

    • There was an entire Fife Piper album by The Dynatones on the HBR label (HST-9509) in stereo! H-B was really looking to become an all-around entertainment company by the mid-60s and the label was not limited to the “Cartoon Series.” Some of their 45′s, which are discussed on various web sites, were diverse and eclectic to say the least.

    • It certainly seemed like they were trying to 1-up Disney with their Disneyland and Buena Vista labels.

  • Wow – I was just thumbing through the ‘Kids’ section at a local used record store (I actually had to ask, because it was put into storage in lieu of a dedicated ‘Christmas’ section) and came across the P&BB album.

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