ANIMATION SPIN
October 29, 2013 posted by Greg Ehrbar

“Monster Shindig” and “Mad Monster Party”

Time to get out the Halloween records and play them through the living room windows! These two classic monster recordings may not be window-worthy, but they’re important for their place in animation-related history.

MonsterShindig-550

MONSTER SHINDIG STARRING SUPER SNOOPER & BLABBERMOUSE
Hanna-Barbera Records HLP-1201 (Mono) Album Released in 1965.

CREDITS: Writer/Director: Charles Shows. Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Music: Hoyt Curtin. Cover Art Direction: Willie Ito. Cover Artist: Ron Dias.

Voices: Paul Frees (Super Snooper, Weirdly Gruesome, Count Dracula, Frankenstein Monster, The Wolfman, TV Announcer, Dr. Frank N. Stein, Fireman); June Foray (Blabbermouse, Phone Caller, Creepella Gruesome, Gobby Gruesome, Granny Witch); Danny Hutton and The Hanna-Barbera Singers. Running Time: 40 minutes.

Songs: “Monster Shindig,” Super Snooper,” “The Monster Jerk.”

This is the first in what I hope will eventually be a regular look at every Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Series LP, among the most beguiling and sought-after animation-related records ever created.

Monster Shindig was the first catalog number in the first wave of HBR releases, all of them featuring art by Ron Dias and design by Willie Ito, both legendary artists with phenomenal careers in print, film and TV with Disney, Warner, H-B and many others. Even if a particular HBR release isn’t your cup of tea, the cover art is always mighty impressive indeed.

This album might be described as a dramatization of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 1962 novelty hit, “Monster Mash.” The idea of multiple monsters having a celebration is a sure way to please both classic monster fans and kids—and the mid-60s were a time when monsters, both scary and comedic, reached a pop culture peak. Today we have zombies and vampires all over the big and small screen, but it’s not in the same vein (sorry).

As in one of their cartoons, Super and Blabber begin their adventure in their office and get a phone call from a neighbor of the Gruesomes, complaining of the noise (giving the sound editor the first chance to splice together three sets of sound effect mash-ups). We’re not supposed to care that the Gruesomes were from the stone age, since they’re ghouls anyway and could have lived for thousands of years (and besides, it’s Hanna-Barbera, so why sweat the logic of the premise?).

Creepella and Weirdly have gathered all the monsters for some dancing and mingling, but especially so Dr. Frank N. Stein can unveil his latest—and very mysterious—creation. Along the way, we get lots of goofy puns and always-delightful HB library music. Writer/Director Charles Shows, who is credited with every HBR Cartoon Series record, begins his penchant for running gags between record albums.

I always got a kick out of how the songs “Monster Shindig” and “The Monster Jerk” are heard whenever a character turns on a radio or TV on subsequent albums. On this record, we hear a funny reference to Magilla Gorilla (mentioning other H-B characters is another running gag). Snooper and Blabber’s “Blab we are the police, remember?” gag pops up on their James Bomb album, too.

The most discussed aspect of HBRs is the casting of actors for character voices. While Snooper and Blabber were both voiced on TV by Daws Butler, Monster Shindig comes as a bit of shock to fans when they hear Paul Frees as Snoop and June Foray as Blab. The speculation of why this occurred never seems to end (and you can hear and read much fascinating information about it at the archives at stusshow.com and through Mark Evanier at newsfromme.com).

Maybe it was a contractual issue that affected Butler’s tie to Colpix Records, or the fact that Butler wasn’t doing the volume of voices for H-B in 1965 as he was in the late 50s/early 60s. My guess is that Shows booked the recording times and brought in whoever was available to do multiple albums at once in the same sessions. The actors were likely given some audio reference and maybe watched a cartoon, and then recorded all the way through. Studio time is expensive and HBRs were made at a lightning pace with low budgets.

By the way, you can hear a snippet of Don Messick doing a doggie whimper at one point on Monster Shindig. I would imagine a “voice effect” did not offer residuals — that’s why you heard Howard Morris’s “Dyah-dyah-deeeya-duh” every once in a while on HB cartoons. Speaking of Morris, who was the original voice of Weirdly, he’s replaced on this record by Frees. Naomi Lewis originated Creepella’s voice, but it is done on the LP by Foray.

Casting issues aside, the performances of Frees and Foray are spectacular, doing literally every voice. I love it when they all say goodbye—and it’s just two people! They’re amazing, and it’s important to note that, even though some of their voices resemble others they have done elsewhere, they’re not the same. Creepella is not Natasha. Mrs. Gruesome has a sunnier attitude, as if she were a society matron in The Hamptons who loved to throw big bashes (and likes to roll up rugs). Granny Witch is not Witch Hazel, but a more zesty ol’ babe, reminiscent of the lively old lady on Fibber McGee and Molly (“Wa-HOO!”).

Paul Frees’ Weirdly is a cousin of the Peter Lorre impression that, when he did it for Spike Jones on the record “My Old Flame,” even impressed the real Lorre. But Frees’ Weirdly isn’t quite as bloodthirsty. He may go into fits at times, but it doesn’t have the degree of menace of his Lorre impression.

As for Frees’ and Foray’s takes on Snooper and Blabber, it’s interesting to hear how these pros interpret the characters. That’s how I look at it today anyway, even though when I was a kid, I actually returned the condensed 45RPM story version of Monster Shindig because it didn’t have “the real voices.” I’ve since come to terms with it and have grown fond of the album.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Monster Shindig”
One of the best of the HBR Cartoon Series, this catchy tune really could have become a perennial Halloween hit. It’s performed by Danny Hutton, who later found fame with the pop group Three Dog Night. “Monster Shindig” was the “B” side of Hutton’s minor hit, “Roses and Rainbows“. Read more about Hutton’s HBR days here.



MAD MONSTER PARTY
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; Retrograde/Percepto Records FSM-80125-2 (Mono); Soundtrack Album Released in 1998; Film Released in 1967.

CREDITS: Original Album Producer/Composer: Maury Laws. Lyrics: Jules Bass. Mixers: Maury Laws, Andy Wiswell. Premiere Album Executive Producer: Taylor White. Associate Producer: Eric Singley. Creative Consultant/Liner Notes: Rick Goldschmidt. Chief Art Director: Doug Ranney. Cover Design: Reid Thompson. Digital Mastering: Daniel Hersch. Executive Producer: Lucas Kendall. Design Director: Joe Sikoryak. Feature Film Producer: Arthur Rankin, Jr. Associate Producer: Larry Roemer. Director: Jules Bass. Album Running Time: 37 minutes.

Voices: Boris Karloff (Baron Von Frankenstein); Phyllis Diller (The Monster’s Mate); Gale Garnett (Francesca); Title Song Sung by Ethel Ennis.

Songs: “Mad Monster Party,” “You’re Different,” “The Mummy,” “Our Time to Shine,” “One Step Ahead,” “Never Was a Love Like Mine.”

Instrumentals: “The Baron,” “Waltz for a Witch,” “Cocktails,” “The Bash,” “Jungle Madness,” “Mad Monster Party,” “The Baron Into Battle,” “Transylvania, All Hail,” “Pursuit,” “Requiem for a Loser,” “Finale.”

MadMonsterParty-250Since it has such a similar premise, it seemed fitting to include the landmark Rankin/Bass Animagic stop-motion feature along with Monster Shindig. I can’t speak as eloquently about MMP as Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, who authored a book about the film, but this post will focus more on the soundtrack album.

Rankin/Bass composer/arranger Maury Laws may have been the only person on Earth who had a copy of the MMP soundtrack album. As the film credits proclaim, we were supposed to find the RCA Victor album in stores, but it was never released. What you hear on this disc is Laws’ mono test pressing. The songs sound about the same as you might hear them in the DVD and Blu-ray without sound effects.

The joy of hearing the sound track albums of Mad Monster Party and The Daydreamer is that the scores contain so much of the emerging Laws/Bass style and versatility. The Daydreamer vinyl Columbia LP has the classic fairy tale sound of Rankin/Bass musical fantasies with their trademark soaring strings, woodblocks and familiar Laws “hooks.” MMP offers the R/B jazz, adventure and comedy arrangements and songs, complete with tack piano, guitar twangs and bongos.

Boris Karloff talk-sings “One Step Ahead,” a track created on two continents, as described in Goldschmidt’s liner notes. In the unforgettable Jessica Rabbit-like role of Francesca, Gale “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” Garnett gets two songs. Phyllis Diller’s “You’re Different” was a special treat for her to record, as she was rarely given songs to sing and she hired a piano just to practice on her own. Sadly, Allen Swift, who voices everyone else in the movie (except for the title song by jazz singer Ethel Ennis), is not to be found on the album as none of his characters, even Felix Flanken, got their own song.

If you’re shopping for the Mad Monster Party Blu-ray, it looks pretty good. The figures and sets are easier to see and enjoy (Diller’s character has a tiny, detailed mouth!). However there are some scratches that were probably too costly to paint out digitally. If you still have the 2007 Anchor Bay DVD, you may want to hang onto it as well, because the extras differ and that package also has a booklet and postcards.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Waltz for a Witch”
Maury Laws may have created this bouncy background piece for Mad Monster Party, but many fans of Here Comes Peter Cottontail will also recognize it from the Halloween sequence. Enjoy hearing it as a complete musical piece without any dialogue or sound effects!

10 Comments

  • One of the things I found interesting about these HBR releases, is that, from what I can gather, they were produced much like the sound on an animated show. They recorded the voices in the Hanna-Barbera recording studio, on 35mm magnetic stock. Then the film editors took over and cut sound effects and music on 35mm mag and mixed the tracks just like they would in post-production on a TV show. On the liner notes, they always gave the specs for the microphones and recording equipment. 35mm mag was very high quality, so these things sounded slick.

  • Willie Ito and Ron Dias didn’t do quite all the covers. Warren Tufts & Harvard Pennington are credited with the cover art for “Treasure Island Starring Sinbad Jr.” (Tufts even supplied the voice of Pegleg!). I don’t have “Jonny Quest in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” so I don’t know who didt that one (but my guess would be Tufts again).

    • You’re absolutely right. They designed all of the first wave of HBR albums and were signed “WI & RD.” These had a lot of white space, unlike the later ones that had the colors bleed to the cover edges. My intention is to credit the artists who did the later covers when I get to them. Sorry for the phrasing that might have implied that. Thanks for clarifying!

  • Daws Butler did provide the voices of Snooper & Blabber on the “James Bomb” Hanna-Barbera LP. Don Messick was James Bomb’s voice (and Gold Pinky), while Butler did Dr. Oh No.

    • Yes, indeed. Stay tuned for that review when it comes soon,. “James Bomb” is one of the best HBR’s.

  • I, too, as a kid was put off by the substitution of Paul Frees for Daws Butler, which happened on many of these H-B albums. Now, however, as yours, my attitude has changed. After all, if you’re going to have a substitute voice artist–what better choice than the talented Paul Frees? June Foray likewise is an A-list voice artist, so why quibble? While having Daws on hand would have made Snooper and Blabber sound more “authentic” we would have missed out on all of the other monster voices being supplied by these two talented people.

    And once you can get past the “non-authenticity” issue, there is much to love about these recordings. Clever gags, a storyline that never “talks down” to kids but stays at a somewhat sophisticated level, those great H-B music cues in the background, the great sound effects–it’s pretty much a class act all the way. I do love how “Monster Shindig” recurs on other albums whenever someone turns on the radio or TV.

    The Gruesomes, apart from being voiced differently, seem different in character from their appearances on “The Flintstones”. They seem to me more like Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, even down to the Peter Lorre-like voice given to Weirdly by Paul Frees and the sultry tones that June Foray gives to Creepella. I have a strong suspicion that the original draft of this script was written with the characters of Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist in mind–and then with the Gruesomes as more recent incarnations of the same type of family, and probably having more name recognition value at the time–the script was probably altered slightly to incorporate the Gruesomes as a replacement. Just a guess, but there seems to be evidence in the script that might bear this out. It would also explain why they have suddenly been transplanted from the Stone Age.

    The songs are a great asset to this album. Unlike the pseudo-rock that could be found on a lot of children’s albums at the time, the HBR rock sounds more genuine, more like true rock music. With artists on hand like Danny Hutton, it is no wonder that the songs have this authentic feel to them.

    My only real problem with “Monster Shindig” is the last half of the story, which abandons the monster party premise and focuses on the creation of one gigantic monster named Irving. With all of these fun characters to play around with, why focus on one giant misfit monster, instead of a plot that is more interactive and centered around the main characters?

    That leads into “Mad Monster Party” which fulfills this premise a little better and gives each monster his/her “time to shine.” Again, great voice artists and a fun story, with a delightfully zany finish. I do wonder, though, why Count Dracula was out and about in broad daylight trying to take down Felix Flanken. Maybe the Monster Island has a spell of its own that makes it safe for vampires during the daytime. I enjoy Karloff’s “speak-singing” on this album, and Phyllis Diller is very funny in her role. I like the James Stewart-like voice that is given to Felix.

    Thanks for posting about these great albums. I look forward to more!
    Happy Hallowe’en!

    • Thanks, Frederick. My thoughts exactly! You make a good point about the story changing direction on side two. This happened a lot on Hanna-Barbera Records — for example, “Hot Rod Granny” is all about Granny Sweet’s drag race (with interminable race announcements) on side one, then focuses on two hapless escaped convicts who underestimate Precious Pupp on side two. In a way, this was kind of nice because you got two stories on one record that connected somehow.

  • I love the “Mad Monster Party” soundtrack! When I first saw the movie, I recognized the “Waltz for a Witch” music from “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”

  • About the song, “Monster Shindig”: One of its songwriters was Lynn A. Bryson, known all over Utah for his LDS/Mormon youth fireside speeches about demonic backmasking conspiracies, John Lennon attempted to take over the U.S. government with a “Spear of Destiny,” and a series of cassettes decrying eeevil rock music for Mormon youth.

    Here’s what I’ve found about the guy, as much discography info as I can piece together:

    Lynn Bryson on 45 RPM singles:

    “Big Mean Drag Machine”/”Pretty Things,” Hook 12863.
    –A copy went for $31 on Ebay in 2011. The 45 has an orange label with black printing, no listing for record company address, no other (to my knowledge) records issued on that label. It was listed at KMEN San Bernardino, CA, 1290AM radio station local charts as “honorable mention” during 1/10/64, 1/17/64, 1/24/64, and 1/31/64. The record appears to be a garage rock record, not an MGM (or any affiliated label) release. Per Lynn Bryson’s book, page 76, he was a DJ for KMEN at the time. This 45 does not show up in any of my Jerry Osborne 45RPm singles’ price guides (POPULAR & ROCK PRICE GUIDE 3rd edition, ROCK/ROCK & ROLL PRICE GUIDE,4th edition, published by Osborne-Hamilton)–meaning it was extremely obscure as an indie “spec” release or vanity press.

    Lynn Bryson was also affiliated/recorded/songwriter for several releases for Hanna-Barbera Records, on the HBR label, beginning April, 1965–per Billboard, May 3, 1965 article listing Larry Goldberg starting it up, signing both Danny Hutton and Lyn Bryson for HBR:

    45 singles:
    Roger and Lynn, “Summer Kind of Song”/”Baby Move In” HBR 444 (Lynn Bryson was the “Lynn” of Roger and Lynn on this uncharted 45 single release, dating July, 1965, listed as a new release in Billboard on 8/14/65. Both songs show Lynn Bryson’s co-songwriting credit.

    Lynn Bryson’s co-songwriting credits appear also on the following HBR 45 singles:
    The Creations IV, “Dance In The Sand” HBR 440 (May, 1965)
    Danny Hutton, “Monster Shindig” HBR 447 (July, 1965)
    Danny Hutton, “Monster Shindig Part 2″ HBR 453 (November, 1965)

    “BYU Boy Missionary”/”The Flip Side,” LAB 13966 (recorded 3/09/66; Bryson claims this 45 single sold 15,000 copies in 1966 in Utah. ???)
    Listed at position #17, up from #31, at KYME 740, Boise, ID, on 7/16/66, local radio station survey chart.

    On Lp, Lynn Bryson is credited on co-songwriting credits on the HBR albums:
    SNAGGLEPUSS TELLS THE STORY OF THE WIZARD OF OZ, HBR HLP 2026
    WILMA FLINTSTONE TELLS THE STORY OF BAMBI , HBR HLP 2027
    THE RELUCTANT DRAGON STARRING TOUCHE’ TURTLE AND DUM DUM, HBR 2029

    An Lp discography, of sorts, for Lynn Bryson’s Provo based vinyl record label, circa 1970, LAB PRODUCTIONS:

    LAB 100, THE SONS OF MOSIAH (2 Lp set; $5.95 list)
    LAB 101, THE MISSIONARY ALBUM (his 1966 45 recording of “The Missionary Song” is one of the tracks on the Lp; $3.95 list)
    LAB 102, AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM VOL 1 SUNG BY THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL LAMANITE CHILDREN’S CHORUS (gatefold cover with booklet attached at the inner spine; $5.95 list)
    LAB 103, AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM VOL 2 …. ($5.95 list)

    Note: Orrin Hatch was Bryson’s music attorney for a while for LAB Productions, c. 1970. THE SONS OF MOSIAH had members from a San Francisco psych-rock group, TRIPSICORD, as well as MOBY GRAPE. According to Bryson’s book, WINNING THE TESTIMONY WAR (1982), his SONS OF MOSIAH long-hair Mormon rock group had several bookings canceled and he lost $9,000 on the tour. AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM albums, volumes 1 and 2, were the soundtracks (?) to a movie project shown in southern Utah and Arizona to promote the BYU Indian Placement program, about 1970.

    More or less in order, Lynn Bryson was a DJ at the following radio stations, beginning 1958, through December, 1968:

    KPKW, Pasco, WA (Mentioned in Billboard in mid-’59)
    KWAC, Bakersfield, CA (12/62)
    KFXM, San Bernardino, CA
    KMEN, San Bernardino, CA (terminated due to his religious stridency in early 1964; however, he’d plugged his own garage hot rod rock 45 single in January, “Big Mean Draggin’ Machine” for over a month on his station, which may have influenced the station)
    –met Danny Hutton, later of THREE DOG NIGHT fame, and Larry Goldberg, who started Ultima Records in October, 1964, a label notable for the first appearance of a Jimmy Webb (“Up Up and Away,” “By The Time I Get to Phoenix,” and too many other hit songs to list) song on the first 45 on that label, Ultima 701, by Millie Rodgers, “There You Go”/”Take Marion For Example”. Larry Goldberg was then recruited by Hanna Barbera to turn out children’s albums and rock ‘n’ roll 45 singles on the HBR label, spring, 1965, bringing Danny Hutton and Lynn Bryson with him, for maybe six months.
    KLAV, Las Vegas, NV
    KSNN, Pocatello, ID
    KCPX, Salt Lake City, UT
    KNAK, Salt Lake City, UT
    KGUD, Santa Barabara, CA
    KOVO, Provo, UT
    KNAK, Salt Lake City, UT
    C. 1969, Provo had some local rock groups with long hair: The Spring Fever, The Soul Sophisticates, the Elder Generation, Brother Bryson’s Traveling Salvation Show (obviously borrowing from the Neil Diamond song, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”), and the Sons of Mosiah.

    Bryson lost his record label, record studio, and had his house foreclosed in Provo on 8/22/79. He did the THE OCCULT AND ROCK MUSIC firesides after that date. More or less, his act/roadshow about eeevil backmasking conspiracies parallel what a Los Angeles preacher was doing at the same time (early ‘80s), Pastor Gary L. Greenwald, as well as the Dan & Steve Peters record burning ministries going around (my) college campuses at the same time.

    He wrote a book, c. 1982, published by his Band-Aid Productions, WINNING THE TESTIMONY WAR. The end of the book concludes with the failure of his Book of Mormon on Tape business that ended with him losing his studio and house in 1979

  • I used to have a copy of this as a kid and would love to own a copy again where can I buy this now?

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