Under the lengthy title “How to Be A Better-Than-The-Average Child Without Really Trying,” Golden’s faux Yogi offers musical tips on coping with our lives.
YOGI (The Better-Than-The-Average) BEAR:
“How To Be A Better-Than-The-Average Child Without Really Trying!”
Golden Records LP-90 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)
Released in 1962. Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Script & Songs: Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Joan Lamport, Jackie Reinach. Arranger/Conductor: Jim Timmens. Running Time: 36 minutes.
Voices: Frank Milano (Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo, Ranger Smith); Dottie Evans (Cindy Bear); Mike Stewart (Soloist).
“How to Be” Songs: “Yogi Bear is Better/You Can Be a Better Child” (Based on the TV Theme); “Happy As a Clam,” “Everybody Makes Mistakes,” “Get Neat,” “Doodlin’ and Dawdlin’,” “Don’t Do Unto Others What You Don’t Want Done to You,” “Take a Little Care,” “A Little This, A Little That,” “So Many Rules!” “There’s a Reason for the Rules,” “Parents Are People, Too.”
TV Theme Songs: “Top Cat,” “Wally Gator,” “Dum Dum,” “Touché Turtle,” “Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har.”
This LP is a complete concept album with ten extra minutes added after it’s done. All of side one and most of side two contains ten songs themed to “How to Be A Better-Than-The Average-Child Without Really Trying” (a twist on the then-recent Broadway hit, How to Suceed in Business Without Really Trying). The songs themselves are pleasant but could necessarily Yogi-specific; they could just as easily be performed by a generic chorus or another set of popular characters—just like the songs that Jack Mercer and Mae Questel recorded for Golden Records about health, safety, friendship and manners.
Popeye and Olive might seem a better fit for such songs than Yogi, as his main appeal (at least in his early cartoons) was as a nonconformist. Children’s records that taught pro-social lessons were common almost as long as records existed, though. Yogi was at his peak of popularity in the early ‘60s, so combining positive lessons with his persona must have appealed to parents, though kids would probably be most drawn to the themes on side two.
The “How to Be” songs come to a conclusion, with a finale reprise, when the albums still has about ten minutes left of playing time. It then shifts into theme songs from Hanna-Barbera cartoons, all recorded in New York by Golden artists, just like the Yogi songs. The main appeal of the themes is that they are each about two minutes long, allowing for verses and even complete refrains that were never used on the actual cartoons. The best one is probably “Top Cat” because Jim Timmens’ light jazz style is a nice setting for the music, even though it’s a far cry from Hoyt Curtin’s spectacular Hanna-Barbera “Jetson Jazz” arrangements. But even the “Touché Turtle” theme is fascinating because so little of it is part of the cartoon version, and all one can hear of “Lippy The Lion” in the cartoon is the very last line. At least these themes are given a permanent document in sound because of Golden.
Frank Milano sang and/or narrated a number of Golden Records in the early ‘60s, voicing Golden’s faux Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith on two albums. He also narrated the original “Poky Little Puppy” Little Golden book and record set and provided voices, animal noises and vocal effects for classic TV shows like Mister Peepers and Rootie Kazootie, as well as the voice of Mr. Wizard the Lizard on TTV’s Tooter the Turtle cartoons, Dottie Evans was a familiar, if often uncredited, studio singer who recorded two half-albums with Art Malvin (The Carol Burnett Show) and Robert Harter (The Daydreamer) as “The Tootlepipers,” which appeared on the flip sides of RCA’s Shirley Temple versions of Disney’s Bambi and Dumbo. She also was part of the Golden Singers in the Jim Timmens days and part of several ensembles for mostly budget-level records. One album worth looking into–if you enjoy vintage ‘50s/’60s sound records–is “When Christmas Comes To Our House,” which was released under several titles including “Christmas Holiday Time is For Children” on labels like Waldorf, Grand Award and Color Tone. She also did a series of Space Songs albums with children’s balladeer Tom Glazer.
Jackie (aka Jacqueline) Reinach, who worked with composer Joan Lamport on the script–and the songs that were not Hanna-Barbera themes–was a veteran of children’s television for decades until her passing in 2000. She worked with such legends as Fran Allison, Shari Lewis, wrote several albums for Golden (Show and Tell, Introduction to Music), but found her biggest success with public TV’s The Letter People puppet series and especially the multi-million-selling book series, “Sweet Pickles.”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Introduction – “Yogi Bear is Better”
Hanna, Barbera and Curtin’s Yogi Bear Theme was adapted (by Jackie Reinach and Joan Lamport) into this song to set the stage for Golden’s album of “Good Do-Bee” songs for Yogi and friends.
BONUS! GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Golden Versions of Hanna-Barbera Themes
The light jazz touch of Jim Timmens is somewhat startling to those hearing these selections for the first time—with “Wally Gator” as a twist beat—but it works well for “Top Cat.” Note all the extra lyrics not heard in the cartoon versions.