To salute veteran voice actor Joe Alaskey, who passed away February 3, here’s a look at a delightful recording in which he plays Daffy and Sam in a Looney Beatles parody.
BUGS AND FRIENDS SING THE BEATLES
Kid Rhino Records R2-71769 (Compact Disc / Stereo)
Released August 28, 1995. Executive Producers: Robin Frederick, Robert Emmer. Producers: Geoff Levin, Chris Many, Scott Matthews, Roger Clark. Writers: Charles Carney, Robin Frederick, Geoff Levin. Musicians: Geoff Levin, Chris Many, Jim Grinta, Ian Seeberg, Tony Morales, David Campbell, Dick Bright. Production: Bruce Chianese, Terry Reiff, Bino Espinoza, Paul Martin. Mastering: Bob Fisher. Liner Notes: Stephen K. Peeples, Robin Frederick. Art Direction: Coco Shinomiya. Design: Escott Associates. Illustration: Dirk Wunderlich. Running Time: 33 minutes.
Voices: Mendi Segal (Bugs Bunny); Joe Alaskey (Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam); Jim Meskemen (Elmer Fudd); Jim Cummings (Taz); Joe Pizzulo, Gary Falcone, Geoff Levin, Angie Jarée, Terry Wood (Backup Vocals).
In the ‘90s, Rhino Records was producing a proliferation of outstanding character-related recordings featuring Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, DC and many others. Warner, Cartoon Network and Rhino were partnering and the listeners were rewarded with lots of new material as well as some highly prized vintage collections (in particular, the H-B releases archived and produced by Earl Kress).
Songs: “She Loves You,” “The Fool On The Hill,” “Birthday,” “Hello Goodbye,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “It Won’t Be Long,” “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane,” “Help!” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “The Long And Winding Road” by John Lennon, Paul McCartney.
Daffy’s interpretation of “Yesterday” offers the self-styled balladeer giving the song his all, while various slapstick mishaps occur every time a lyric even hints at the possibility. Daffy croons and complains, as the nonplussed engineer patiently completes the session in a deadpan fashion worthy of Tom Bodett. Of course you-know-who’s behind Daffy’s ordeal—shades of Duck Amuck.
As Daffy, Joe Alaskey nails every nuance and pays off the gags with looney aplomb. On a 2012 episode of the internet radio program, Stu’s Show, Alaskey told Stu Shostak and the listeners a little bit about his approach to Daffy: “I’d put it in the imitation stage first, before you start living it and acting it. Listen carefully, see how he breathes and where to place the voice – that’s very important. For instance, with a voice, well like [starts doing the voice] Daffy Duck and a few others, you want to kind of cut off the nasal passages and just project from the mouth alone.”
“The Long and Winding Road” is a Road Runner cartoon in miniature, with stereo sound effects creating a vivid picture of the Coyote’s numerous schemes and their disastrous results. There is no dialogue, just the backup singers and the occasional “meep meep.”
Mel Blanc had passed away six years before this album was made, and though the cast does a superb job, even they would have given “a million box” to hear Beatles songs performed by the great man himself as Bugs and friends. (The liner notes state: “The producers would like to acknowledge the incredible talents of Mel Blanc.” The album is entertaining just the same, with hearts and voices in the right place.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Yesterday” – Daffy Duck
Executive Producer: Jon Stone. Musical Direction: Joe Raposo. Running Time: 5 minutes.
Pop and rock were a staple of Sesame Street from the very beginning of the series—can it be almost 50 years ago? Muppet tributes to the Fab Four and others date back to before the Street premiered, on such variety programs as The Ed Sullivan Show and of course extend to The Muppet Show and beyond.
Quite a few of the pop songs were original—usually involving writer/performer Christopher Cerf—but sometimes a classic tune would be featured. This 45 RPM single captures two video soundtracks on vinyl.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Octopus Garden” and “Yellow Submarine”
Both sides of the single disc.
The Anything Muppets sing “We Belong Together” and “All Together Now”