By the middle 1920’s, recording techniques had improved so much that records could capture both the grandeur of the Symphony and the delicacy of Chamber Music.
And, as “serious” music works are often longer than can be put on both sides of a twelve-inch (thirty centimeter) record, somebody came up with. . . the Album: a “book” of from two to twelve records which encompass an entire symphony, concerto, sonata, or tone poem.
“Popular” albums were later in coming. The earliest such “albums” were eiher devoted to a particular show (such as “Show Boat”), or were devised as tributes to a deceased jazz artist (Bix Beiderbecke or Bessie Smith).
When Victor issued the three consecutively-numbered discs from the soundtrack of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, they may not have been thinking “album” per se. (Later, this set would be packaged as a formal album.)
Victor had the deal with Disney–so Victor issued a three-disc album (set P 18), with six selections from the sound track of “Pinocchio”. These were dubbed at Victor’s studios in Hollywood, and featured not only the well-known Cliff Edwards (in the role of “Jiminy Cricket”), but Broadway veteran Walter Catlett as J. Worthington Foulfellow, along with Dickie Jones in the title role.
But it turned out that Victor would have some competition for the hard-earned dollars of those who wanted the “Pinocchio” music and songs in a nice, neat package.
Decca Records–an upstart company that had burst upon the record scene back in 1934–was really making a go of popular albums, an not just collections from a show, either.
Nearly all manner of middle-brow “popular” music was coming out on Decca album compilations.
They had already recorded sets drawn from the scores of The Wizard Of Oz and Gulliver’s Travels, when they decided to give the same treatment to Pinocchio.
While Victor’s album was a three-disc set (probably selling for three dollars), Decca’s set was a four-disc set–and it sold for less. (It’s possible that it may have been pegged as low as $1.90.)
People who bought the Decca set certainly got value for money–even if the Victor surfaces wore better under the needle than Decca’s.
Victor Young organized the best studio musicians that Local 47, American Federation of Musicians, could offer. Ken Darby handled the chorus work, and with his usual aplomb.
And the Decca set offered someone who was also on the Victor issue of soundtrack rubbings. That someone was Cliff Edwards.
Space does not permit a full bio of “Ukulele Ike” here. But “Pinocchio” was his first work for Disney.
And the relationship would continue and thrive into the middle 1950’s, to their mutual benefit.
The discs in the Victor album were issued in England on HMV–sporting pale blue labels with appropriate illustrations on the label, and,again, with Nipper relegated to a small canton near the bottom of the label.
NEXT WEEK: It’s Different with the Classics