ANIMATION SPIN
July 7, 2015 posted by

Walt Disney and Jiminy Cricket On The Record

The only record Walt Disney made for his own label, and the edited version with Jiminy Cricket, are featured with the Disneyland 60th Anniversary on the horizon.

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A DAY AT DISNEYLAND
With Walt Disney and Jiminy Cricket
Disneyland Records Storyteller Series ST-3901 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / 1957)

Released in 1957. Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Musical Arranger/Conductors: Camarata, Oliver Wallace, George Bruns. Running Time: 28 minutes.

WALT DISNEY TAKES YOU TO DISNEYLAND
A Musical Tour of The Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, California
Disneyland Records WDL-4004 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / 1956)
CD Reissue: Walt Disney Records 61346-7 (2005)
Download Reissue: iTunes (2006)

Released in 1957. Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Music Arranger/Conductors: Camarata, Oliver Wallace, George Bruns. Running Time: 36 minutes.

Cast: Walt Disney (Himself); Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket); Uncredited Voices (Mission Control Crew).
Music: “Overture: Disneyland Theme”, “Adventureland Suite (Adventureland Boat Ride / Orchids in the Jungle / Monkeys and Hippos / Distant Drums / The River and the Rapids / Tribal Dances / Finale)” by Camarata; “Meet Me Down on Main Street” by Oliver Wallace; “Westward Ho the Wagons”, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Tom Blackburn, George Bruns; “Old Betsy” by George Bruns, Gil George; “Slue Foot Sue’s Hoedown”, “Tomorrowland Suite (Overture / The World of Tomorrow / Countdown and Blast Off / Outer Space / A Meteorite Strikes / The Other Side of the Moon and Back / Next Target: Mars)” by George Bruns; “Farewell” by Davy Crockett, George Bruns; “Whistle While You Work”, “Someday My Prince Will Come”, “Heigh-Ho” by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill; “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!” by Sammy Fain, Sammy Cahn; “Alice in Wonderland” by Bob Hilliard, Sammy Fain; “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Ned Washington, Leigh Harline.

There was only one instance in which Walt Disney made a recording exclusively for his Disneyland Records label. His Mickey Mouse voice popped up on a number of discs, but they came from film soundtracks. The resulting Walt-narrated LP, Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland also has the distinction of being the very first album completely produced and marketed by Jimmy Johnson and the staff of Disney’s fledgling in-house record division.

Walt Takes You to Disneyland395Walt’s narration, however, takes up only a small fraction of the entire record. The subtitle of the album accurately describes the overall listening experience: “A Musical Tour of the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, California”. It is a collection of four fully orchestrated suites by three of Disney’s greatest musical directors, each devoted to one of the four lands of Disneyland when it opened in 1955.

Walt speaks briefly at the start of each “land” section. An overture, composed by Tutti Camarata, opens the LP, followed by Walt reading a few words from the dedication plaque (“To all who enter this happy place…”) and describes Main Street, U.S.A.

Walt offers slightly more detail about Main Street than he does for any of the other lands represented on the record. This may be no accident; nor is his mention of the Music Store, which was the brainchild of Disneyland Records President, Jimmy Johnson. A few sound effects help create the audio portrait, along with the music by Oliver Wallace, including his “Meet Me Down On Main Street,” which was presented with different lyrics in the 1950 Donald Duck cartoon, Crazy Over Daisy.

Thus sets up the format of the entire disc: narration, instrumental music, and a sound effect or two here and there. This interesting, pure-audio concept gave the listener a basic setting up front and then the freedom to let imagination take over. It was not unlike the experience of Side One of Disneyland Records’ 1964 bestseller, Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House, in which Laura Olsher would set up a situation and the sound effects would finish out each track.

DayAtDisneyland-frontierland“Adventureland” is a standout track, due in no small part to Camarata’s masterpiece of “Bachelor Pad” exotica, the “Adventureland Suite.” This Martin Denny-like tropical jungle tone poem that approximates the story pattern of the Jungle Cruise attraction. Not only did this piece of music reappear on other Disneyland records, it also strongly suggests (coincidentally of course) George Bruns’ evocative main title music for The Jungle Book.

The “Frontierland” portion is an example of the finely honed marketing technique that Roy Disney called “cross-pollination,” the equivalent of today’s “synergy”. In addition to “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”, this track also works in the theme to the then-current “Westward Ho the Wagons”—a feature film co-starring member of the Mouseketeers with Fess Parker (and even George Reeves of TV’s Superman). Westward Ho the Wagons! was also the first live-action soundtrack to originate on Disneyland Records, with stunning cover art created just for the album by Peter Ellenshaw.

This was business as usual for Disney, especially in the 1950’s of the Walt era, when the studio’s seamless blend of entertainment, education and promotion was at its peak. That Disneyland itself was a living template for the various studio enterprises was hardly a dark secret, as Walt explained the interconnectivity in the inaugural episode of his first ABC series… “Disneyland”.

DayAtDisneyland-BackLGFans of mid-20th century sci-fi will revel in the “Tomorrowland” sequence, based on the Rocket to the Moon attraction. This track contains “mission control” dialogue with sound effects and a dramatic original suite by George Bruns that epitomizes the distinctive style of Disney film and TV music of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The album closes with “Fantasyland,” through a medley of Disney songs from animated features. As arranger and conductor, Camarata, includes the opening strains of “When You Wish Upon a Star” just as it was heard at the beginning of Pinocchio, and his own arrangement of “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly” adapted from the Mickey Mouse Club LP, A Walt Disney Song Fest (later released as Walt Disney’s Most Beloved Songs).

A Day at Disneyland is one of those albums that tantalized and teased those of us who owned Disneyland Storyteller albums in the Baby Boom era, and stared wistfully at the other LP’s in the series pictured on some of the back covers. Towering among the picture of nine Storyteller LP’s (all of which looked wonderful and wantable) was “A Day at Disneyland with Walt Disney and Jiminy Cricket”. This was the jewel in the crown – especially for those of us who lived thousands of miles from the original Magic Kingdom and could only visit through TV shows, books, records and View-Master reels.

The album, the first of the Disneyland Records “Storyteller” series, is packaged with a full-color book and is more directly aimed at than Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland. To accommodate its additional narration by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, more sound effects and a few music edits were used for A Day at Disneyland.

DayAtDisneyland-mainstOn this album, the overture is followed by narration from Jiminy, who offers a quick rundown of what we are going to hear. The music is slightly expanded (with a portion of the Tomorrowland section) to allow extra time. Jiminy introduces Walt Disney, who is arriving on the train (just as he is on the album cover). Then we hear the same Walt narration as on the earlier LP.

The big difference is that Jiminy narrates over the musical passages, calling out the sights and sounds. The two voice tracks sound so acoustically different, perhaps that’s why the script attempts to account for Walt and Jiminy’s separation with lines like “Wait up, Walt!”

In the Frontierland section, Jiminy sings a snippet of Westward Ho the Wagons along with the orchestra; in Fantasyland, he does the same for “When You Wish Upon A Star”, and speaks the “Dig-Dig-Dig” part of “Heigh-Ho”.

Although the overall Day at Disneyland album is shorter than its predecessor, it contains more detail because of the extra narration. Jiminy follows Walt Disney’s opening to the Fantasyland track with “There’s so much to do here that Walt didn’t have time to mention half of it! There’s the Magic Teacup Ride, there’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and a big pirate ship in the lagoon. There’s ice cream men, popcorn men, clowns selling balloons. There’s Mickey Mouse’s own theater!” Proper nomenclature (the precise attraction names) is not much of an issue on this album.

Best of all, Jiminy rides three attractions: Snow White’s Adventures, Peter Pan’s Flight and the Storybook Land Canal Boats. Jiminy eschews nomenclature again when he mentions “Never Never Land”—it’s actually called “Never Land”, but is often given two “Nevers”, maybe due to the song from the 1954 Broadway musical of Peter Pan starring Mary Martin, which was aired live on NBC when this album was released.

DayAtDisneyland200“Look at those big molars!” says Jiminy, as we pass through the mouth of Monstro the Whale on our journey through Storybook Land. “But he won’t hurt us. He’s stuck in the rocks here at Disneyland and has been for a long time–and will be for a long time to come.”

The album closes with Jiminy stating what is also the mid-fifties positioning of Disneyland as the epicenter of Disney magic. “Storybook Land is full of the houses of all your favorite characters, isn’t it? Up on that hill—there it is! The little village where Pinocchio lives with Gepetto, his father. And kids, you know, that’s where I live, too. Ever since I walked in one night and made myself at home by the fireplace. So, I’m going to leave you all now and go home and have a nap. I hope I see you again in Disneyland.”

After decades out of print, Randy Thornton at Walt Disney Records produced and remastered Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland for CD, download and a limited-edition vinyl replica. The CD and download are still available.

Next month, A Day at Disneyland will be released again–as a newly-remastered, full-size vinyl Storyteller LP record package replicating the original three-panel gatefold format–for the first time in almost 60 years. It will be available for sale starting August 14, 2015 in Anaheim, first at the D23 Expo, and then at select Disneyland Resort locations after the Expo. I have to wonder what I might have thought–back when I was a six-year-old record collector–of such a wondrous turn of events!

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
The Many Adventures of Camarata’s “Adventureland Suite”

Since Tutti Camarata was in charge of the artists and repertoire of Disneyland Records from the late ‘50s through the early ‘70s, it stands to reason that this composition was easily at hand for reuse on various albums. This video is a composite of its vinyl appearances, first on the original Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland, then A Day at Disneyland, followed by the Thurl Ravenscroft-narrated “Adventurous Jungle Cruise” from Side Two of The Enchanted Tiki Room soundtrack LP. It’s heard again with Dal McKennon as Bagheera on More Jungle Book, then again on the first Walt album. (The faint sounds of the gurgling Jungle Cruise boat were always part of the Suite.)

2 Comments

  • Jiminy’s narration adds more detail and enhances the experience, making it seem more like a bona fide visit to Disneyland. One difference that I’ve noticed in listening to the Walt Disney and Jiminy Cricket albums is that Walt’s voice sounds a bit lower and perhaps slightly slowed down from the original recording. Maybe this needed to be done in order to dub Cliff Edwards’ voice over the original tracks.

    My only quibble with Jiminy’s narration is that he tends to focus on the effect of what he is seeing rather than describing it in much detail. He often shouts out “Look over there!” or “Watch out!” and it isn’t always clear, except in a general way, what he is referring to. When he says “Hey Sue, you’re dancing up a storm!” it doesn’t really tell us anything about the Golden Horseshoe Revue, especially as the can-can dance was only a small part of what the show was all about. On the other hand, his description of the Seven Dwarfs’ Diamond Mine is pretty atmospheric, and so is his description of the Jungle Cruise. I do, however, think it was unfortunate that he ends the Disneyland experience by saying that he is going to take a nap…not a very exhilarating finish. It should finish up with the fireworks display at night–the way a day at Disneyland truly ends. It would give the listeners a more upbeat note to end on. The closing narration could have run something like this: “Now just listen as Tinker Bell lights up the sky with fireworks for our grand finale. I hope to see all of you at Disneyland real soon!” And then it could go into a big musical finish with firework sound effects in the background. That’s how I would have ended the album if I had written the script!

    The “Adventureland Suite” is truly a masterpiece. It’s nice to hear it instrumentally in its entirety on the “Walt Disney” album. But I also like Jiminy’s narration over it, and I also greatly enjoy Thurl Ravenscroft’s which is a bit more detailed and more descriptive. In fact, as a kid I often wished that the “Tiki Room” album had included a separate instrumental-only track of the Adventureland Suite, especially as it was listed separately on the album label. The Ravenscroft version was the only one available in the mid to late 60’s, so I had to content myself with listening to the music through the narration and occasionally trying to separate it out with a little imagination. I did enjoy the narration, too, of course…in fact, it was one of my all-time favorite listens.

    I enjoy all of the incarnations of this music and these albums. Each one has something that the others don’t. And music (and/or narration and sound effects) that can duplicate the experience of Disneyland is always welcome.

  • I did not have either of these lps when I was a kid. I can’t even recall having seen them in the stores. But I do know these days that WALT DISNEY TAKES YOU TO DISNEYLAND was also released at the time on 45 rpm Extended Play Disneyland records. There were five individual releases: WALT DISNEY TAKES YOU TO MAIN STREET, WALT DISNEY TAKES YOU TO ADVENTURELAND, etc. Some twenty-or-so years ago, I obtained a copy of FANTASYLAND, my favorite part, complete with the original hard cover!

    When I got it, I settled down to listen to Walt speaking. To my utter shock, I discovered that whoever wrote Walt’s narration made a glaring error! And poor Walt SPOKE it on the record! I’m guessing that Walt was concentrating so much on his delivery that he never noticed the goof! If he *had* noticed it, surely he would have corrected the script himself on the spot! The error came when Walt referred to the Seven Dwarfs’ famous diamond mine as their GOLD mine! OUCH! Oh, well–Nobody’s perfect!

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