As a record-collector of long-standing, I have schlepped my way through a plentitude of rummage sales, garage sales, swap meets, record meets, charity shops and “we-buy-junk-we-sell-antiques” stores.
In one such establishment, I did come across a copy of the version of “Little Lulu” by Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers on RCA Victor. Unfortunately, the record was in pieces, and I could not be sure that all the pieces were present and accounted for. So, I filed the information away in the old knowledge-box, in case I ever ran across another copy of the 78 rpm disc.
A few weeks ago, the thought struck me to check out a well-known website unto which many old recordings of all kinds have been uploaded. I checked–and, sure enough, not only was “Little Lulu” there, but other cuts by Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers. Apparently, there had been a CD reissue of the group’s material, which reissue had somehow escaped our ken.
Later that night, I got an expected call from a good friend, whom we may call “Chuckles”. I remembered to tell him of what I had found, and we bade each other goodnight in due course.
Five minutes later–while I was getting ready to go to bed–“Chuckles” calls me back. Not only had he gone and listened to the upload of the disc–but he had made a connection that I had missed. He was telling me that Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers was the vocal group heard on some–repeat, some–of the Terrytoons cartoons of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Well now, this WAS interesting!
We had both grown up watching “Mighty Mouse Playhouse” and “The Heckle And Jeckle Cartoon Show”, and had seen many of these Terrytoons over and over again through the years–first ion network television, then on syndicated television, then on home videos of dubious legality.
And we had heard various vocal ensembles used in the cartoons, to provide exposition, or to explain a plot point that might otherwise be missed. We had both noticed various vocal groups used on the Terrytoons of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
While some of them sounded like they’d just come out of the Civic Light Opera–trained voices more used to operetta than to popular songs. But others used a mixed vocal group, which sounded quite full in their harmonies, and quite up-to-date in their chords and the blending of their voices. This group I would call, for lack of a better name, “The TerryTones”.
The cartoon that has been or canary-in-the-coal-mine is Mighty Mouse in Krakatoa, which features not only a slow and dreamy paean to the virtues of Krakatoa , an “. . . island where there is no aloha”, but the uptempo novelty song, “Krakatoa Katie”. (Both presumably with lyrics by Tommy Morrison, and music by Philip A. Scheib.)
Now, it is tempting to jump to conclusions. Record collectors have been dong that for years! But comparison between “Krakatoa Katie” and other sides credited to Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers suggest that the blend of voices is identical.
Again, one must also realize that, in a city as large and diverse as New York City, there must be hundreds of singers, who can be marshaled into quartets of one female and three males, to song for the cartoon soundtracks. But the evidence is there on the soundtracks and recordings.
I would invite the listener to hear these for him – or her- self, and make up one’s own mind.