The 1973 two-record set that helped celebrate “50 Happy Years” of The Walt Disney Company also turned to be a tribute to Disney’s in-house record company.
50 HAPPY YEARS OF DISNEY FAVORITES
Disneyland Records STER-3513 (Two 12” 33 1/3 RPM LP’s / Stereo / 1973)
Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Original Producer: Tutti Camarata. Editor/Engineer: Larry Blakely. Compiled and Mastered at Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Running Time: 65 minutes.
Three Little Pigs (1933 Film): “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” – Gloria Wood, Jimmy Macdonald (1958 Recording)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937 Film): “Whistle While You Work,” “Heigh-Ho” – Mary Martin (1958 Recordings)
Pinocchio (1940 Film): “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Give a Little Whistle” – Cliff Edwards (Soundtracks)
Dumbo (1941 Film): “Casey, Jr.” – Disney Studio Chorus (Soundtrack)
Bambi (1942 Film): “Love is a Song” – Camarata Chorus & Orchestra (1957 Recording); “Little April Shower” – Disney Studio Chorus (Soundtrack)
Saludos Amigos (1943 Film): “Saludos Amigos” – Chorus Conducted by Leo Pirachi (1958 Recording)
Song of the South (1946 Film): “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah)” – James Baskett (Soundtrack)
So Dear to My Heart (1949 Film): “Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)” – Burl Ives (1964 Recording)
Cinderella (1950 Film): “The Work Song” – Jimmy Macdonald & Mouse Chorus; “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” – Verna Felton; “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Ilene Woods (Soundtrack)
Alice in Wonderland (1951 Film): “Alice in Wonderland” – Camarata Chorus & Orchestra (1957 Recording)
Peter Pan (1953 Film): “The Second Star to the Right” – Disney Studio Chorus (Soundtrack)
Lady and the Tramp (1955 Film): “Bella Notte” – Bob Grabeau (1962 Recording)
Mickey Mouse Club (1955 TV Series): “Mickey Mouse March” – The Mellomen & Mouseketeers (1955 Recording)
Sleeping Beauty (1959 Film): “Bluebird/I Wonder” – Mary Costa; “Once Upon a Dream (Finale)” – Disney Studio Chorus (Soundtracks)
it’s a small world (1964 Attraction): “It’s a Small World” – Disneyland Boys’ Choir (1965 Recording)
Mary Poppins (1964 Film): “Chim Chim Cheree” – Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber (Soundtrack)
Winnie the Pooh and The Honey Tree (1966 Film): “Winnie the Pooh” – The Jack Halloran Singers (1965 Recording)
The Jungle Book (1967 Film): “The Bare Necessities” – Phil Harris, Bruce Reitherman, Sebastian Cabot (Soundtrack)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971 Film): “The Age of Not Believing” – Angela Lansbury (Soundtrack)
Disneyland Records had produced several Disney music compilations since its inception in 1956. Among those explored on Spin were the documentary-like Music Cavalcade , the 1966 memorial LP, The Music of Walt Disney and two albums for Gulf Oil Company.
50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites is similar to the Gulf albums in that it emphasizes celebrities like Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Martin, Louis Prima, Burl Ives, Phil Harris and the like. But the cumulative effect of hearing both records has an additional effect beyond celebrating the mammoth accomplishments of the company that Walt and Roy built. What also emerges is an overview of the plucky young in-house record company that was ignited by Jimmy Johnson and Tutti Camarata, a microcosm of Roy and Walt–the business whiz and creative genius.
Even when the music on this album did not flow from Camarata’s baton but from original soundtracks, he was nonetheless the producer of all the records that presented them, every song bears his influence. All of these Disney songs were housed at Camarata’s Sunset Sound studios during this period, so they could be more easily accessed for compilations. Engineer Larry Blakely, who also was responsible for editing feature-length dialogue tracks down for story albums, worked on the compilations.
50 Happy Years is also a testament to Jimmy Johnson’s business and promotion acumen. He was the primary writer of promotional material for the music company, also contributing most of the Storyteller scripts of the ’60s and early ’70s. This is the only album in which the enclosed book lists awards for each film. There are a total of 25 songs representing 11 features, two shorts, one attraction and one TV series.
Disneyland albums based on such films Saludos Amigos and So Dear to My Heart were out of print by 1973. They are not in the book. All the Disney projects that are represented also boasted corresponding records that were available for sale at the time. Sharp-eyed Disney record collectors will notice that even the title designs for each film match the corresponding Storyteller and/or read-along records (except Song of the South, the records for which used the more familiar Uncle Remus or Brer Rabbit character names).
A few of the tracks were originally recorded in stereo but, for whatever reason, their mono versions were used. This compilation album is unique among the others because all the mono tracks were given a slight “enhanced for stereo” boost with added bass tone and reverb to widen them out. It’s not terribly excessive, but it does sound odd when it’s added on top of tracks that already had echo, like “Little April Shower.” At any rate, this is the only compilation on which the mono songs have this unique effect.
Independently of Disneyland Records and this album, there was a “50 Happy Years” song, perhaps created for promotions or theme park entertainment (it sounds like the Character parade music of the ’70s):