As leaves fell from the 1947 calendar, approaching the Autumnal Equinox, the staff of the Music Department of the Walt Disney studios was cloaked in anticipation. And why should that not have been the case?
Make Mine Music had done all right for Disney. And Song of the South had reaped a bonanza of ancillary income from three hit songs. Why should it be different with the upcoming “package” feature, “Fun and Fancy Free”?
Alas, it was not to be.
Fun and Fancy Free did well at the box-office, both here and abroad. But, from the standpoint of hit songs–frankly, Fun and Fancy Free was a flop!
The film’s title song did get covered by a number of the companies–big and small–that were now in the record business. But few of the records really caught on with the public. The film’s title song did get covered by several companies.
Columbia, which seems to have invested heavily in recordings connected with this film, handed Fun and Fancy Free to Gene Krupa’s orchestra, (with a vocal). Krupa had his troubles during the recent World War II, but he was over that now, and had a big, swinging band.
Another swinging group was handed this tune by RCA Victor. Louis Prima had just been pinched from Majestic Records, and had a big, swinging band which he led with lots of personality.
Other companies went in a different direction. Musicraft gave this song to an Italianate crooner, Phil Brito,who had been recording for them for several years after serving an apprenticeship with the band of Al Donahur.
M-G-M–which had only just gotten into the record business at the beginning of 1947–handed it to ex-Paul Whiteman pianist Buddy Weed and his trio.
And Capitol went in for a completely intimate treatment, putting this song in the hands of the Dinning Sisters, a soft harmony trio. They were backed up by the Art Van Damme Quintet–a group led by someone who showed that swinging jazz could be gotten even out of a piano-accordion.
Even some of the transcription services got into the act. Frankie Masters had a middle-level big band which had some popularity,especially in the Middle West. He got to cut “Fun and Fancy Free” for one of the transcription services–possibly for Lang-Worth.
As for the main parts of the picture, the music industry ignored “Mickey and the Beanstalk” entirely. There were no pop covers of “My, What A Lovely Day” or “Fee Fi Fo Fum”. We shall see how the industry responded to “Bongo”–and what they got for it!