Here’s the story, of the kids named Brady, who were animated for a little while; all of them played groovy songs, from their albums, in that Filmation style.
THE KIDS FROM THE BRADY BUNCH (1972)
Paramount Records PAS-6037 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Stereo / 28 minutes)
MEET THE BRADY BUNCH
Paramount Records PAS-6032 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Stereo / 31 minutes)
THE BRADY BUNCH PHONOGRAPHIC ALBUM
Paramount Records PAS-6058 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Stereo / 32 minutes)
Producer: Jackie Mills for Wednesday’s Child Productions. Arranger: Al Capps. Engineer: Lenny Roberts. Art Direction: Bill Levy. Illustration: Joe Petaglio. Package Concept & Design: Pacific Eye & Ear.
Cast: Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Eve Plumb (Jan), Christopher Knight (Peter), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Susan Olsen (Cindy).
The Kids from The Brady Bunch Songs: “Love Me Do” by John Lennon, Paul McCartney; ”It’s a Sunshine Day” by Stephen R. McCarthy; “Keep On” by Jackie Mills, Thomas Jenkins; “Ben” by Walter Scharf, Don Black; “Playin’ the Field,” “Merry-Go-Round” by Brian Neary, Joe DiMuro; “Candy (Sugar Shoppe)” by Gene Rogalski, Jan Erik Lindwald; “In No Hurry” by Tony Dancy, Craig Fairchild; “Saturday in the Park” by Robert Lamm; “You Need That Rock ’n Roll” by Don Hull).
Meet The Brady Bunch Songs: “We’ll Always Be Friends,” “I Believe in You,” “Love My Life Away; “Ain’t It Crazy” by Jackie Mills, Danny Janssen; “Day After Day” by Pete Ham; “Baby I’m-A Want You” by David Gates; “American Pie” by Don McLean; “Time to Change” by Raymond Bloodworth, Chris Welch, Billy Meshell; “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Kent LaVoie; “I Just Want to Be Your Friend” by Curt Boettcher; “Come Run with Me” by Richard Obegi, James Bryant; “We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter” by Michael Gately, Robert John.
The original Brady Bunch series–which premiered in 1969 but cemented itself firmly in the 1970s–is a paragon of the gentler suburban side of those turbulent times, where “psychedelic” meant nothing more than the designs on school notebooks, and the most serious issues of the day involved swollen noses and what to do with a too many trading stamps.
The Brady Bunch Phonographic Album Songs: “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig,” “Charlotte’s Web” (from Hanna-Barbera’s Charlotte’s Web), “River Song” (from Tom Sawyer) by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman; “I’d Love You to Want Me,” “A Simple Man” by Kent LaVoie; “Colorado Snow” by Annette Tucker, Jan Rado, Arthur Hamilton; “Parallel Lines” by B. Bryan, G. Ballantyne; “Everything I Do” by Tony Dancy, Craig Fairchild); “Yo-Yo Man” by Marty Cooper, Rick Cuhna; “Summer Breeze” by Jimmy Seals, Dash Crofts; “Gonna Find a Rainbow” by Stephen R. McCarthy.
It seems fitting, then, that Filmation’s most Filmationistic production should be oh-so Brady. The Brady Kids had all the classic elements of Filmation cartoons: kicky pop tunes, a laugh track, fantasy sitcom elements and lots of vocal heavy lifting by just a few skilled actors—in this case, primarily Larry Storch and Jane Webb. The series also holds the distinction of being the first cartoon to present Wonder Woman and Diana Prince as one of the many “guest stars,” who also included The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, and Miss Tickle from another Filmation series, Mission: Magic — to name a few.
Most of all, it had the Filmation trademark of repurposed animation. Fans of The Archie Show can relive that enchantment on The Brady Kids by virtue of seeing so many of the same poses, a pet that’s simply Hot Dog with different cel paint, and most amusingly, the exact same rock band animation as The Archies. Even most of Ray Ellis’ background music was heard on various Archie and Sabrina incarnations.
The business model of TV teens as pop stars goes back to the early days, when Rick Nelson, Annette, Shelley Fabares, Paul Petersen and of course, The Monkees, sold millions of records by way of a powerfully popular presence on TV as well as skillful musical direction behind the scenes—and yes, talent, in the form of charisma and appeal if not always musical expertise.
Such expertise was at a premium when Paramount decided to package the Brady Bunch kids as a pop group. Their Friday night neighbors, The Partridge Family, were becoming so successful that, to quote a TV Guide commercial, their merchandising had “practically became a branch of the U.S. mint.”
There was a major difference between Partridge and Brady records. When Keith, Shirley, Laurie, Danny, Chris and Tracy started singing, all we heard was Keith and maybe Shirley in the background, but mostly the skilled, mature-sounding Ron Hicklin Singers including John and Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward (who sang for Cindy Bear in Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear) and Ron himself (who was one of The Hanna-Barbera Singers, too).
When the Bradys sang, it was really Greg, Jan, Peter, Cindy, Bobby and Marcia-Marcia-Marcia. Their voices were doubled on some tracks and a few songs did include backup singers, but for the most part, the Bradys sounded as earnest as the church choir at the Sunday 5 p.m. Youth Mass.
The three above albums were preceded by a Christmas album in 1970. By the release of the third LP (and the only one to feature Filmation character designs), The Kids from The Brady Bunch, some of the same songs were occasionally played on both the Friday night sitcom and the Saturday morning cartoon.
Their fourth and final vinyl, The Brady Bunch Phonographic Album, had less to do with either Brady TV show and more connection with the big screen with three Sherman Brothers songs. One was “The River Song” from musical adaptation of Tom Sawyer with Johnny Whitaker and Celeste Holm. The other two Sherman songs were a wonder of synergy between Paramount’s TV, movie and recording divisions.
“As a promotional event, the Bradys performed their single, “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig” and the stronger B-side, “Charlotte’s Web” at the premiere of the animated feature,” wrote Lisa Sutton, who compiled, annotated and designed the 1993 Best of the Brady Bunch CD. “This took place at the Avco Theater [in Westwood Village at the entrance to the UCLA campus], where they also obliged fans by signing autographs of the picture sleeved 45.” (For more on Charlotte’s Web, see last week’s Spin.)
When Barry Williams appeared on The Dating Game during that period, host Jim Lange introduced him by mentioning the recently released single. Williams pondered his selection of bachelorette, as the Bradyized version of “Charlotte’s Web” played out to the commercial break:
Perhaps Mike Brady (as played by Gary Cole in the 1995 Brady Bunch Movie) summed it all up best. “Alone, we can only move buckets. But if we work together, we can drain rivers.” Does it make sense? It’s best not to think about it too much. Just enjoy.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“It’s a Sunshine Day”
The quintessential Brady Bunch hit, this is 1970’s delirium at its zenith.
Here is the original TV debut of the song on the ABC Friday night sitcom:
This is the “Sears Wonderland” sequence from the 1995 feature film:
Here’s Filmation’s animated version:
And here is the Archie Show animation they reused to make it: