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records 1954-1960 records
Things Get Started At Capitol
In the mid 1940s, Capitol Records began producing a line of records specifically geared towards children. Mel Blanc was apparently under contract there at the time, so a deal was made with Warner Bros. to produce children's albums featuring the popular Warner Bros. cartoon characters.
Unlike most later records, the Capitol albums utilized the talents of artists and story men who were directly involved with the making of the theatrical shorts. Virtually all of the records were written by either Warren Foster, Michael Maltese, or Tedd Pierce. Robert McKimson illustrated two of the three record readers produced, and the voices are all done by the usual cast of Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, etc.
Are the Capitol Records as edgy, funny, or adult as the cartoons? No. Unlike the theatrical shorts, these albums were specifically written with children in mind. However, everyone is "in character" and Mel Blanc's singing and voice work is delightful.
Unlike the cartoons, the records were scored by Billy May, Van Alexander, and Dave Cavanaugh. The musical scores are fun to listen to, and most of the records begin and end with a catchy tune that sort of mimics the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies themes, but is quite different. Clips of this opening, as well as clips from various records, are included within the record listings.
I have posted scans of the wonderful cover artwork for many of the records. The covers were done by a combination of people, some of whom worked for Warner Bros., and some of whom worked for the comics. This variety provides an interesting array of styles and character designs that is quite refreshing when compared to the stock cookie cutter designs most current Looney Tunes video and CD cases have. Several cover scans were provided by Tim Cohea (A.K.A. Sogturtle), thanks, Sogturtle!
Capitol Passes the Torch to Golden
In 1954 Capitol ceased making new records with the Warner Bros. characters, but continued to repackage and reissue the previous albums. From this point until the early 1960's, Golden Records would produce albums featuring Warner characters. I do not know for sure just why Warner Bros. decided to switch to Golden, but it probably had a lot to do with Golden being owned by Western Publishing and Lithography, the company who had been liscencing the characters for comics, books, puzzles, and other items since the early 1940's.
The most notable differences between the Golden and Capitol albums are format and the absence of Mel Blanc. The Golden Records were shorter and were exclusively musical while people other than Mel Blanc were used to voice the characters with results that range from decent to horrible. Arthur Q. Bryan was still used as the voice of Elmer Fudd, providing for some authenticity. It is possible that Mel Blanc was unable to provide his vocal talents due to his contract with Capitol, but eventually he was able to voice the famous character for a series of twelve birthday records released by Golden and written by Foster and Pierce - one for each month of the year.
The music for the Golden Records is provided by Mitch Miller and His Orchestra on most occasions, and a number were written by Warren Foster and Tedd Pierce. At least one Golden song made it into a later animated production; parts of "Mr. Easter Rabbit" are sung by Daffy at the end of "Bugs Bunny's Easter Special."