ANIMATION SPIN
May 23, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

The Grooviest “Jungle Book” on Records

Disneyland Records’ somewhat unorthodox non-soundtrack version of the score captured a very different kind of ’60s “hip” than the movie soundtrack.

Songs from Walt Disney’s
THE JUNGLE BOOK and Other Jungle Favorites

The Jungle V.I.P.’s
Disneyland Records 1304 or STER-1304 (Stereo) / DQ-1304 (Mono) (33 1/3 RPM 12” LP)

Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer: Camarata. Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Running Time: 23 minutes.
Jungle Book Songs: “Colonel Hathi’s March,” “I Wan’na Be Like You,” “ Trust in Me,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” “My Own Home” by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman; “The Bare Necessities” by Terry Gilkyson.
Other Jungle Favorites: “The Abba Dabba Honeymoon” by Arthur Fields, Walter Donaldson; “Civilization” by Bob Hilliard, Carl Sigman.

This “second cast” or “cover” album represents a transition in Disneyland Records to a greater extent than even the original soundtrack album. It’s performed, more or less, in the “mod” style common to what was acceptable to the mainstream as pop music in the mid-sixties. It was the commercialized version of the youth movement, made accessible to Mr. and Mrs. America by way of movies and TV shows. It was Elizabeth Montgomery rocking to “If’n” on Bewitched, or Barbara Eden singing about “electric days and electric nights” on I Dream of Jeannie.

The other arrangements of the songs on this Jungle Book album were still presented in a more contemporary manner, relative to its day, than the way they were done on the soundtrack of the film. Phil Harris’ Baloo may have talked of a “cool, swingin’, crazy beat,” but it was more of a Las Vegas, Dixieland and big band swing that was still popular. Ultimately, it is this approach that benefits the film soundtrack in the long run, as it has proven to be less dated than the record we’re discussing today. Nevertheless, this non-soundtrack album is worth noting for being essentially the first Disneyland children’s album with a rock and roll sound.

Golden and Hanna-Barbera Records had been venturing into the styles of the Beatles goodtime rock for years already, but Disney’s excursions into such sounds were on the more generic Buena Vista label. It is exactly the sound of Buena Vista’s Annette records, and its artists, that influenced this Jungle Book record.

Tutti Camarata produced and arranged almost all of the music on Annette’s early albums, including her self-titled debut LP, Annette Sings Anka, Hawaiiannette, Italiannette and Dance Annette. He did so only for selected songs on her later Buena Vista LP’s and singles, including material for American-International’s “Beach Party” movies.

Almost all of this was recorded at Tutti’s Sunset Sound studio in Hollywood (where rockers like The Doors and The Rolling Stones were also recording, by the way). Most of the beach party music was written and produced by Guy Hemric, Jerry Styner, Gary Usher and Mike Christian, who may have had a hand in the sound of “The Jungle V.I.P’s” too, since the sound of Songs from The Jungle Book has little resemblance to other Disneyland records of its era.

There are some stylistic exceptions to the overall pop/dance sound. “Colonel Hathi’s March” is done with male singers—perhaps including Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft and/or Gene Merlino—in a straightforward way, faithful to the film. “That’s What Friends Are For” is performed rhythmically but not so much as a pop tune, and also not as a barbershop quartet, as it was on the soundtrack.

Perhaps the most unusual tracks is “Trust in Me,” arranged for strings and pop keyboard with a very slow-dance discotheque vibe. The vocalists seductively moan the lyrics to create a hypnotic effect, but do not stress the “s” sounds as Sterling Holloway does so brilliantly in the movie.

One of the “Jungle V.I.P.’s” is Carol Lombard, not the legendary movie star but a very much in-demand vocalist who usually sang in backup groups for recording stars (including Annette). Lombard was most comfortable singing in an ensemble, but Camarata liked her solo voice, as she had also sung on other Disney LP’s like Songs from The Happiest Millionaire and The Tin Woodman of Oz. She was a vocal contractor for adults and children—her children’s group can be heard on the theme song for American International’s 1966 import series Prince Planet and the 1979 single “Together We Can Make a MerryChristmas.”, the only disc that Frankie Avalon and Annette ever recorded together (due to their label contract restrictions).

With Lombard in the “V.I.P.’s” is Ron Hicklin, a ubiquitous voice in film, TV and records. His own vocal group performed the songs for The Partridge Family with David Cassidy and Shirley Jones (whose vocals was leveled down on the records and raised on the TV soundtracks, because of their respective audience targets—teens and families, respectively). The third “V.I.P” is Al Capps, another very busy arranger and singer, well-known in the music industry, who with Ron Hicklin was one of the Hanna-Barbera Singers and arranged the album version songs for Alice in Wonderland, or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?. Both Hicklin and Capps sang “You Bug Me, Ann-Arlene” on the Sherman Brothers’ classic album, Tinpanorama.

“My Own Home” is sung with breathy wistfulness by Sally Stevens, a studio singer and vocal contractor whose numerous credits include several Star Wars movies, Oscar telecasts and countless recordings.

“My Own Home” is given a lovely arrangement here that suggests what Irwin Kostal would do for the Sherman’s theme for Charlotte’s Web six years later.

But it’s the groovy grooves on Songs from The Jungle Book that make it, in retrospect, a love letter to the ‘60s, especially, “The Bare Necessities,” in which a shout of “Go bear, go!” cues a cheering crowd and bridge music that could have easily accompanied Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne dancing in body paint on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. (The song’s coda, suggesting music in Kurt Russell’s “Dexter Riley” movies makes one wonder if Bob Brunner had a role in the arrangements.)

The “Other Jungle Songs” on the album are interesting in that, even though they may seem unrelated to Disney, they each have connections. “Abba Dabba Honeymoon,” which is misspelled Flintstone-style on the Jungle Book album cover (it’s really “Aba Daba”), is a novelty tune best known from the MGM movie Two Weeks with Love. The soundtrack version sung by Debbie Reynolds and Carlton Carpenter, charted as a single. It was also a long-running Fritos jingle.

However, the Disney connection can be heard here, in the 1930 Silly Symphony, Monkey Melodies:

“Civilization,” better known by its chorus, “Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t wanna leave the congo,” is another Tin Pan Alley song. Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters scored the biggest hit with it, but the second biggest recording was made by King Louie himself, Louis Prima. Another connection is lyricist Bob Hilliard, who cowrote most of the songs for Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Songs from The Jungle Book”

Stereophonic records became common from the ‘70s onward, but there was a transition period from the late ‘50s to the late ‘60s during which stereo records could be ruined by heavy tone arms and the wrong kinds of needles, so two versions were usually offered: stereo and mono (sometimes called “regular”). Eventually record players were compatible with any vinyl disc, but children’s records were the last to transition, since kiddie players were of varying quality. Anyway, the songs on this Jungle Book, heard here in stereo, were sold in more mono versions because they were also available on 7” 33 1/3 RPM records and 45 RPM singles and EP’s.

11 Comments

  • The song “Civilization” also appeared on the 1950 Screen Song cartoon Jingle, Jangle Jungle.

  • Not related, but where can I listen to the rest of that 1963 Casper record you posted? I’m very interested.

  • When I was a child and “The Jungle Book” was Disney’s latest big hit, this record was considered inferior to the storyteller album, which featured the songs from the sound track. Most of my young friends did not like this album–this secondary cast “Jungle Book.”. To our juvenile ears, it sounded tinny and cheap, especially compared to the “authentic” version. And more than one of my friends mentioned that “Abba Dabba Honeymoon” should be on a Flintstones record, not a Disney record. (We didn’t know then, of course, that it was an old song that pre-dated the Bedrock family by a few decades.)

    Today, my appreciation of this album is somewhat richer. I can appreciate the fact that the songs are somewhat stylized from the original recordings. I can also enjoy the singers and arrangements more. In fact, it’s a delightful alternative to the sound track.

    • Interesting that you and your friends thought it sounded like a an HBR record, since it had some of the same people involved. Your young ears were pretty sharp!

  • The Holly Cole Trio had an album back in the 90’s that had a very smoky and melancholy night-club style arrangement of “Trust In Me.” It’s one of my favs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABWg-Wou6ZU

  • I received this from my friend Sandy as a eighth birthday gift in 1972, and loved it. And haven’t heard it since!

  • Greg: A fun, factual and informative post, as always. Don’t forget the continuation of the story in Disney’s “More Jungle Book: Further Adventures of Baloo and Mowgli,” (Disneyland ST-3960 from 1969), which also features Harris and Prima, as well as Ginny Tyler as Mowgli and Dallas McKennon as Bagheera.

  • “The Jungle Book” was the first film my parents took me to see in a theater (on its initial release), and they bought me this album soon thereafter. Of course, I still have the album, which I loved as a kid. Thanks for a great column, Greg, that brought back some wonderful memories.

  • Wow, the stereo sounds great on this recording!

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