A peek at the soundtrack album to animation’s most expensive-yet-experimental, corporate-yet-independent and mainstream-yet-eccentric theatrical feature – ever!
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Columbia Records S-34686 (Stereo) (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / 1977)
Producer/Arranger/Conductor: Joe Raposo. Orchestrations: Joe Raposo, Jim Tyler. Assistant Conductor: Dave Conner. Engineer: Fred Christie. Soundtrack Produced February 8, 1977 at Media Sound, New York. Running Time: 51 minutes.
Voices: Didi Conn (Raggedy Ann); Mark Baker (Raggedy Andy); Fred Stuthman (Camel with the Wrinkled Knees); Alan Sues (Loony Knight); George S. Irving (Captain Contagious); Arnold Stang (Queasy); Mason Adams (Grandpa); Marty Brill (King Koo-Koo); Paul Dooley (Gazooks); Allen Swift (Maxie Fit-It); Joe Silver (The Greedy); Hetty Galen (Susie Pincushion); Sheldon Harnick (Barney Beanbag, Socko); Ardyth Kaiser (Topsy); Margery Gray and Lynne Stuart (Twin Penny Dolls).
Songs: “I Look and What Do I See,” “I’m No Girl’s Toy,” “Rag Dolly,” “Poor Babette,” “A Miracle,” “Ho-Yo,” “Candy Hearts,” “Blue,” “I Never Get Enough,” “I Love You,” “It’s Not Easy Being King,” “Hooray for Me,” “You’re My Friend,” “Home” by Joe Raposo.
Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann character (who turns 99 years old this Sunday) is one of those evergreen properties – along with her brother Andy – that have inspired animated versions throughout the 20th century, including Max Fleischer’s Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy (1941), Famous Studios’ Suddenly It’s Spring (1944) and The Enchanted Square (1947) and a Saturday morning TV series in 1988, among others. Each placed these pleasant, passive rag dolls in odd, fantastic settings with odd, fantastic characters.
But nothing dialed up the crazy better than Richard Williams’ 1977 epic feature (that would be “crazy-cool” as well as “crazy-whaaa…?!”), Raggedy Ann and Andy. A massive enterprise requiring two studios on each U.S. coast, the film is an historic landmark in that Williams combined animation talents from several generations and experience levels and let them loose. Just a few of the artists involved were Tissa David (the first woman to animate a major feature character), Art Babbitt, Grim Natwick, Emery Hawkins, Eric Goldberg, Michael Sporn, Susan Kroyer, Hal Ambro, Cosmo Anzilotti, Spencer Peel, Gerald Potterton, Irven Spence, Art Vitello and many more.
John Canemaker chronicled the production from start to finish in The Animated Raggedy Ann & Andy, a marvelous, richly detailed book that is a treasure to read and re-read, even if one has never seen the movie. Imagine what a book about the aftermath of the film and the recollections of such an august group of artists might be like!
A true animator’s film, the title credits feature the lead animators’ names instead of the voice actors. It would have been nice of the record album would have credited the sterling cast (a who’s-who of New York voice actors), almost all of whom are heard on the densely packed LP. The album includes all 14 songs plus lots of dialogue that covers the story quite well. The only segment missing is the end of The Greedy sequence, detailing how the heroes got away. (It might have been nice if Didi Conn was brought into the studio again to add a few lines of exposition, like the soundtrack album of A Boy Named Charlie Brown.)
Joe Raposo’s expertise in music and records is undisputed, as his many honors attest. This album, being his turf, works on records in ways that became problematic in the film. Animated features do not usually have 14 songs, the majority sung to completion (Disney’s Alice in Wonderland had about the same amount but kept most of them short or fragmented). The power of Raposo’s score heard in full stereo has an effect that was not fully realized in the mono prints of the film. That wouldn’t have made the songs seem less numerous, but definitely more spectacular. As soundtrack enthusiasts often have to explain to those who cannot see the point of having the audio without the video, listening is a different experience altogether even if the material is similar or identical.
Two of the songs enjoyed some life beyond the film. Dinah Shore sang “Candy Hearts” with Hal Linden on her daytime talk/variety show. Helen Reddy recorded “Blue” and sang it on The Muppet Show and The Carol Burnett Show, the latter performed in a monochromatic blue Raggedy Ann costume, presumably by Bob Mackie.
Raggedy Ann & Andy boggles the mind because it’s such a bold, spectacular enterprise, involves so many mammoth talents and has some tremendously impressive scenes, particularly Emery Hawkins’ infinitely astonishing Greedy sequence. It’s endlessly beguiling, since its goals for mainstream success were so high yet it broke so many rules. Its very existence is important.
“This record and the movie it comes from were made with a lot of hard work by a lot of good people,” wrote Joe Raposo in the album notes. “All of them hope you like ‘Raggedy Ann & Andy,’” This earnest truth of that very naked statement—that this endeavor took a lot of time, care and sacrifice on the part of many people you may never know, so one should think before dismissing the fruits of their labor lightly or with snark—is a message to always keep the people who have made a creative work in mind, even when that work doesn’t measure up. It’s not easy, especially today, when there seem to be a greater number of worthy targets than ever.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Main Title & “Rag Dolly”
The Joe Raposo “Sesame Street House Band” style is very much in evidence in this tune. It could just as easily have been sung by Bob McGrath in Mr. Hooper’s store. When Billboard magazine did a capsule review of the soundtrack album, “Rag Dolly” was their selected track. That’s not a chorus you hear with Didi Conn; that is the cast singing in unison as they would have in a Broadway show.
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY: BEND & STRETCH
Kid Stuff KSS-5012 (Mono / 12” LP / 30 minutes / 1980)
Producer: John Braden. Songs: “Reaching Stretching,” “Jumping Jacks,” “Rocking Boats,” “Elephant,” “Monkey,” “Bird,” “Kangaroo,” “Marching” by John Braden.
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY: TELLING TIME IS FUN
Kid Stuff KSS-5017 (Mono / LP / 27 minutes / 1981 / Producer: John Braden)
Songs: “It’s About Time,” “Brand New Day,” “One Hour,” “Short Hand, Long Hand,” “Five Minutes” by John Braden.
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY HAPPINESS ALBUM (Picture Disc)
Kid Stuff KPD-6001 (Mono / 12” LP / 28 minutes / 1981 / Producer: John Braden)
Songs: “Raggedy Ann & Andy World,” “Suppose,” “Happy Is” by John Braden; “Brother, Come and Dance with Me” by Engelbert Humperdinck (from the Opera, “Hansel and Gretel”); “This Old Man” (Traditional).
The Raggedy Ann & Andy 1977 feature had subsequent influences. In two Chuck Jones CBS specials, 1978’s The Great Santa Claus Caper and 1979’s The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile, June Foray and Daws Butler sound as if they were given Didi Conn and Mark Baker’s voice tracks as a starting point. That’s mere conjecture, but the voices are strikingly similar in tone.
In the 1980’s when Kid Stuff Records was flooding the market with albums and read-alongs featuring licensed properties, the album art on their releases featured some of the Jones character designs and some from the Richard Williams feature, likely supplied by publisher Bobbs-Merrill from their files. One of Jones’ new characters, Raggedy Arthur, is mentioned briefly on the records, but none of the others—Jones’ Alexander Graham Wolf and Williams’ Captain Contagious, The Loony Knight, Grandpa and The Camel With the Wrinkled Knees—appear on the records. (click thumbnails below to enlarge)
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Kid Stuff’s oft-uncredited actors also sound like Conn and Baker descendants, though this album has the treacly feel that adults might have expected when they avoided the Williams feature in theaters. Little did they know that the second half was far from cutesy.