ANIMATION SPIN
November 18, 2014 posted by

Mickey Mouse: “This is My Life” (1971)

Mickey did an in-depth interview for a most unique Disney album that tied into a Theme Park attraction, though not quite thoroughly enough.

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MICKEY MOUSE: THIS IS MY LIFE
Disneyland Records – Storyteller Series (STER) 3806 (Stereo / 12” 33 1/3 RPM LP)
Released in August, 1971.

Producer/Writer: John Scott Trotter. Musical Direction: Wilfred Jackson, Bert Lewis, Buddy Baker, Leigh Harline, Frank Churchill, Leopold Stokowski, Charles Wolcott, Oliver Wallace, Leo Perachi, Camarata. Running Time: 34 minutes.

Performers: Jimmy Macdonald (Album Mickey Mouse, Narrator); Walt Disney (Film Soundtrack Mickey Mouse); Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Florence Gill (Clara Cluck); Jimmie Dodd and the Mouseketeers; Cliff Edwards; Adriana Caselotti; Darlene Gillespie; Ilene Woods; Mike Douglas; James Baskett; Camarata Orchestra and Chorus; Leopold Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Music: “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo” by Carl Stalling (from Mickey’s Follies); “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (from The Band Concert); “Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater” by Jimmie Dodd; “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington (from Pinocchio); “Whistle While You Work” by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs); “The Three Caballeros” by Manuel Esperón; “All in the Golden Afternoon” by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard (from Alice in Wonderland); “So This is Love” by Al Hoffman, Mack David and Jerry Livingston (from Cinderella); “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert (from Song of the South).
Instrumentals: “Turkey in the Straw” (from Steamboat Willie); “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini (from The Band Concert); “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas (from Fantasia).

When Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971, there was just the Magic Kingdom Park and a few hotels. The Park featured an exclusive attraction—an Audio-Animatronics stage presentation called the “Mickey Mouse Revue” (which alas, has since been relocated to Tokyo Disneyland).

There was no soundtrack album for the Mickey Mouse Revue (though the overture turned up on Ovation Records’ The Magical Music of Walt Disney). Instead, Disney music company president and head writer Jimmy Johnson came up with the next best thing: an interview album starring Mickey himself and music from his films.

The bulk of the interview takes up most of side one. Narrator Jimmy Macdonald, who also does his Mister Moose-like Mickey voice (here’s a Mister Moose example that starts at 3:00), sets up musical excerpts starting with Steamboat Willie and concluding with The Mickey Mouse Club. At one point in the interview, Mickey dishes some of his uncharacteristic “baggage” regarding Donald Duck’s stardom: “Now there’s a real ham. And to think I helped him to get his start!”

On side two, Mickey’s role as Disneyland Park host is mentioned and the rest of the album is devoted to the Mickey Mouse Revue. But instead of the actual attraction music, six songs from the Disneyland Records catalog represent the songs performed in the show. Six of them are soundtracks and two are renditions produced especially for records (including Tutti Camarata’s masterpiece recording, Alice in Wonderland).

Some of these selections could very well have been culled from 1966’s The Music of Walt Disney LP, since the edits on the Pinocchio and Snow White songs are identical (sound editors at Sunset Sound used to put most of these collections together from existing materials).

Side two’s selections are a fine “best of Disney” group, but it’s hardly the Mickey Mouse Revue depicted on the cover and in the enclosed book (where “Revue” is misspelled as “Review”). When this album was on sale at Walt Disney World shops, there was even a sticker on the shrink wrap that actually said “Mickey Mouse Revue.” But no soundtrack was released, probably because there was no contractual provision for the attraction tracks to be sold on retail recordings. The Japanese versions have shown up on Walt Disney Records Japan CD’s however, so there are ways to hear the music beds on a disc.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Introduction to “The Band Concert” Excerpt

This will give you an idea of the album “interview” format, with the narrator setting up the “clip” and Mickey commenting. Disneyland Records used this narrated documentary form (without a co-host) for an earlier album called Walt Disney’s Music Cavalcade, as well as the record company’s first official release, Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland.

10 Comments

  • As a kid, I absolutely loved this record. This was an era when the classic cartoons were hard to come by. Occasionally, a Mickey Mouse or Pluto cartoon would accompany a live-action Disney feature. On television, there was The Mouse Factory, which existed only for a couple of years but featured a lot of classic stuff from the Disney vaults–but it was in syndication and didn’t play in every area. Our local station was very late in picking it up–when it finally aired, I watched it avidly. The Wonderful World of Disney TV show on Sunday nights focused on live-action animal stories and rarely, not more than once or twice a year, presented an animated show–and then only a rerun from years past, as no new Disney animation was being produced for television. Strangely, considering his almost total lack of exposure in movies and TV, Mickey Mouse was about as popular during this time as at any period of his career. There were Mickey Mouse T-shirts and sweatshirts (mainly with the 30’s version of Mickey) and Mickey Mouse watches, among much other merchandising. People were talking a lot about the new Disney park in Florida. Quite a bit of interest was generated, even among people who normally didn’t talk or think much about Disney stuff. (One episode of the Hanna-Barbera animated sitcom “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” even makes an oblique reference to the popularity of Mickey on posters and shirts at this time.)

    So with Mickey in the unique position of being a popular icon yet very underused by Disney, this album was a rare and special treat. I loved it and played it over and over again.

    Today, as an adult, I find the album to be cheaply produced and a bit unsatisfying. Except for “Turkey in the Straw” and “The Band Concert” soundtrack, every track had been on a previous Disneyland Records release. Side Two is especially disappointing, as it quickly goes from focusing on Mickey to showcasing Disney songs that were mostly available on other albums at the time. And, as you mentioned, despite the photographs of “The Mickey Mouse Revue” none of the soundtrack of the Revue is heard on the album! Consider that the entire soundtrack of “The Enchanted Tiki Room” had previously been released on Disneyland Records, and they were about to release the soundtrack of “The Country Bear Jamboree.” Surely the effort could have been made to utilize the actual soundtrack from the “MM Revue.”

    In any case, it’s a decent album and much better than not having made it at all. It’s just that considering it’s a Disney production, showcasing their most iconic creation, one expects a little more.

  • Actually, “The Mickey Mouse Revue” closed at Tokyo Disneyland in May 2009 and was replaced by the 3-D show, “Mickey’s Philharmagic”, Incidently, the orginal “Philarmagic” at Walt Disney World is at the same spot where “Revue” once stand.

    I was rather disappointed that this unique attraction closed at Tokyo Disneyland. While I like the 3-D show (although I didn’t see it first hand during my recent visit, due to it being on routine matnese), I found “Revue” more unique as it had many of the familer Disney characters as audio-animatronics, something that hasn’t really been done before or since then. Some folks at a well-known Disney fan site took the news for granted as they found the 1971 show and figure “outdated” and “long in the tooth” but I still found it a loss and a shame.

  • How apropos that you should be posting this article about Mickey Mouse on his 86th birthday (and yet, not mention the occasion at all)…

  • Sorry, but Nov. 18 wasn’t Mickey’s 86th birthday. If you’re thinking of the date of release of “Steamboat Willie,” it wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon; it was the third. It was the first Mickeytoon _with_ synchronized background music and sound effects, but two Mickeytoons were released before it – admittedly only in one (or a few?) local Los Angeles theaters – namely “Plane Crazy” (in May 1928) and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho” (July-ish?). It was only after Disney got “Steamboat Willie” booked into a prestigious New York City theater – with Charlie Chaplin’s help – and found great success that Disney was able to find a national distributor for his Mickey Mouse cartoons.

    • That is true. However, this is Mickey’s birthday as established by Dave Smith of the Disney Archives so it’s been established as his official birthday. Any day’s a good day to celebrate someone as nice as Mickey.

  • I had and loved this record as a kid, but haven’t thought about it since the 1970s–thanks! And I saw the Mickey Mouse Revue at Disney World in the 1970s and Tokyo Disneyland in 2004. Sorry to hear it’s no longer with us,

  • I ran across this LP 3805 This is my life w storybook however, on line I see all the labels are purple while the one I have is yellow with red-purple logo – were there different pressings and, if so, any value difference?

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