August 19, 2018 posted by James Parten

More “Bongo” Beating

To the music industry, “Bongo” was the “alpha” section of Disney’s 1947 package-feature, Fun and Fancy Free. And, while the attention was lavished upon “Lazy Countryside”, there were two other songs featured in this story.

“Too Good To Be True”–not to be confused with a 1936 song of the same title–was by Buddy Kaye (lyrics) and Eliot Daniel (music). Kaye had a long string of credits making up his resume’. And Daniel will be forever known for the theme of the highly-successful television series, “I Love Lucy”.

Dinah Shore-a Nashville-born lass who had made her name on radio and records–sang the song on the film’s soundtrack, and on Columbia’s three-disc album , which told the story and featured the songs.

However, unlike “Lazy Countryside”, Dinah did not cut a discrete version of “Too Good To Be True”. RCA Victor picked up the song, and gave it to newly-acquired star Tony Martin. Martin–a big-voiced singer–was known for dramatic ballads, such as “Tenement Symphony”. His version of “Too Good To Be True” was issued on RCA Victor 20-2396–coupled with “Lazy Countryside”. The record does not appear to have gone anywhere, in terms of sales.

“Bongo” also featured a “rhythm number”, as contrast to the two ballads featured. And here’s where the cringing starts.

There are songs. . . stories. . . gags.. . that were promulgated in all innocence, with no harm intended nor any anticipated, and with no hard feelings. But the heightened sensitivities of this modern age have changed so much of that. Thus it is with the “rhythm number” from “Bongo”–“Say It With A Slap”.

The title sounds today like an invitation to be inducted into the #MeToo movement. But in its day, it was all in fun–another song dealing with the courtship habits of exotic creatures.

Again, Dinah Shore got to sing this one for the “Bongo” album. But Columbia decided to give this to the Modernaires, a vocal group that had done other Disney songs in the recent past.

RCA Victor also decided to plug this tune, by giving it to another recently-signed artist–Louis Prima and his orchestra. Prima sang and played trumpet, in best New Orleans style. And he led a big band that could swing when as, and if, necessary. He had also recently retained a cool-voiced female singer (or “fem chirp’, as some in the trade called them), named Keely Smith. We all know the success they had together–especially after Prima got together with Sam Butera’s Witnesses, and made a big name for himself in the lounges of Vegas and Tahoe. And, we all know that he would eventually work directly for Disney, in “The Jungle Book”.

Prima’s disc was issued on RCA Victor 20-2401, coupled with “Fun and Fancy Free”. Sales were only okay, and the record did not make the charts. But that year, Prima would hit with another kind of “Bongo”–the song “Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)”.

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