A 70th birthday salute to Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and the soundtrack album released almost 50 years after it premiered.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Classic Soundtrack Series
Walt Disney Records 60960-7 (Compact Disc / Mono)
CD Reissue: “Disney Original Soundtrack,” same date & number, slight changes to tray card and booklet.
Currently available on various streaming and download services.
Released in December 1997. Digital Restoration Producer/Editor: Randy Thornton. Digital Restoration Executive Producer: Ted Kryczko. Composer/Musical Director: Oliver Wallace. Orchestrations: Joseph S. Dubin. Vocal Arrangements: Jud Conlon. Art Direction: Luis M. Fernandez. Design: Susan Andrade. Audio Researcher; Glenn Ragland. Restoration/Mastering: John Polito. Special Thanks: Les Perkins, Scott MacQueen, Harry Arends, Jonathan Heely, Matt Crandall, Buena Vista Sound Transfer. Running Time: 56 minutes.
Voices: Kathryn Beaumont (Alice); Ed Wynn (Mad Hatter); Jerry Colonna (March Hare); Richard Haydn (Caterpillar); Bill Thompson (White Rabbit, Dodo); Verna Felton (Queen of Hearts); Sterling Holloway (Cheshire Cat); Norma Zimmer (White Rose); J. Pat O’Malley (Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Walrus, Carpenter); The Mellomen (Cards).
Songs: “Alice in Wonderland,” “In a World of My Own,” “I’m Late,” “The Caucus Race,” “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” “All in the Golden Afternoon,” “Very Good Advice,” “Painting the Roses Red,” “Who’s Been Painting My Roses Red?” by Bob Hilliard, Sammy Fain. “How D’ye Do and Shake Hands” by Cy Cohen, Oliver Wallace. “We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out” by Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Oliver Wallace. “Old Father William,” “A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song)” by Oliver Wallace, “’Twas Brillig” by Don Raye, Gene DePaul; “The Unbirthday Song,” by Al Hoffman, Mack David, Jerry Livingston; “Sailor’s Hornpipe” (Traditional).
Instrumentals: “March of the Cards” by Sammy Fain; “Pay Attention,” “Curiosity Leads to Trouble,” “Simply Impassible,” “We’re Not Waxworks,” “Mary Ann!” “A Lizard with a Ladder,” “The Garden,” “What Genus Are You?” “Who R U?” “Keep Your Temper,” “A Serpent!” “Alone Again.” “Lose Something,” “The Mad Tea Party,” “Clean Cup Move Down,” “The Tulgey Wood,” “Whom Did You Expect,” “The Queen of Hearts,” “A Little Girl,” “Let the Game Begin,” “I Warn You Child,” “The Trial,” “Rule 42,” “Off With Her Head,” “Please Wake Up Alice,” “Time for Tea” by Oliver Wallace.
“When word came down that I was going to be able to restore the soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland, I nearly jumped out of my seat,” said Walt Disney Records Producer and Historian Randy Thornton.
Verse: “How Doth the Little Crocodile?” “Twinkle, Twinkle” and other song lyrics adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Alice had long been a “Holy Grail” among Disney soundtracks, as it had never been released as a soundtrack album before in the U.S. There were only a few exceptions abroad.
In the seventies, Pickwick International issued “Alice in Wonderland,” “How D’ye Do and Shake Hands,” “I’m Late” and “The Unbirthday Song” on some compilations, including Walt Disney’s Original Soundtrack Parade, Volume 2. Also, Disneyland Records Italy released an edited version of the entire film soundtrack (dialogue, music and sound effects) in Italian package as a single album or with a storybook.
The single most distributed version for five decades was Tutti Camarata’s superb interpretation of the score with Darlene Gillespie (and is still the longest-available recorded version). To find out why the soundtrack was not released for so many years, and the history the Camarata version, it is all explained in detail here.
“Unlike the other classic films in which the songs were specifically written to move the story along, Alice’s songs were puzzlements—the music was set, in many cases, to the classic verse of Lewis Carroll,” Randy states in the liner notes. “And as Mr. Carroll would have appreciated, most of the songs seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear without notice. A score cue may melodically go on for a minute or two and then transition into a song. This meant that a song was part of the score and not indexed for the listener’s easy access… songs intertwine; the Dodo sails in and out; and the Cheshire Cat taunts you as he did Alice. Some songs are more like poems with music, such as ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ as told by the Dormouse and ‘How Doth the Little Crocodile’ recited by the Caterpillar. All this makes for a rather unconventional listening experience, but no more unconventional than Wonderland itself.”
Therefore this soundtrack takes listeners on the same musical journey as Alice, only we are hearing virtually all of the musical material free of dialogue and sound effects. Oliver Wallace’s Academy Award-nominated underscore is a joy to behold, along with Joseph S. Dubin’s orchestrations, Jud Conlon’s choral work and the delightful character vocals by Verna Felton Richard Haydn, Jerry Colonna, Bill Thompson and Disney Legends Kathryn Beaumont as Alice and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter.
The visuals of Walt Disney’s Alice can be so overpowering, it’s easy to miss a lot on the music track when captivated by the screen images. The effect of hearing the album can be somewhat of a revelation.
This compact disc has been reissued several times here and in Europe and is currently streaming on several services. To date, this version of the soundtrack has still never been released on vinyl (Walt Disney Records’ recent picture disc is the Camarata version).
When Disneyland Park’s Fantasyland was revamped in 1983, the Alice in Wonderland attraction (a ride-through experience that exists nowhere else on earth) was given one of the most extensive renovations, including a spectacular reworking of the musical score that involved expert consultants like music historian Stacia Martin and writer/producer Les Perkins. John Debney, not only one of Hollywood’s top film and TV composers but also a child of Disney (who as the son of production manager Lou Debney “grew up at the studio”) lovingly recreated the Alice music in full stereo.
“As she had for the 1958 attraction, Kathryn Beaumont returned to narrate the show as Alice,” wrote Stacia in her comprehensive companion book from the CD box set, A Musical History of Disneyland, “Thurl Ravenscroft also revisited his original movie roles as both a bass dandelion and a hapless card gardener, frantically trying to paint white roses red.
“Over two days in September 1983, Debney conducted whistling paying cards, tenor daffodils, and a full orchestra of 49 musicians. One memorable session featured Debney’s whimsical arrangement of “The Unbirthday Song,’ orchestrated by Ira Hearshen for an eleven-piece band of ocarina, flutes, piccolos, violins, tin whistles and chromatic bottles and jugs! To prepare for the afternoon session, the vessel instrumentalists spent the lunch break in a corridor with a pitch-pipe and a drinking fountain, adding and subtracting drops of water until the bottle next could be blown upon in tune.”