convention in Arkansas, which featured a radio show reenactment in which he did his famous Speedy voice.
We share his loss with his friends, family and the many fans of his enormous body of voice work for commercials, cartoons and records -- for us, it was especially records.
Dick wrote a book called "Think Big" in which he chronicles his attitude to life and career, and the various "angels" who always seemed to come along to help him when he needed it. Dick was a little person who loved sports perhaps more than anything else, and was proud to call games for his college.
He was low-key and formal, yet very open to answer questions. I asked him about a particularly disturbing
radio show in which he played a person who stayed a child throughout his life. He said he just took a script and did the work and didn't think about it. Professionalism was tantamount to him.
Like many boomers, I also grew up with his voice work on Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but particularly the HBR records: "Pixie & Dixie and Mr Jinks Tell the Story of
" and especially as the singing voice of Jack in "Jack and the Beanstalk" with Gene Kelly.
, the 1967 Hanna-Barbera live action/animated TV special, he wrote that, even though young
sang the Cahn/Van Heusen songs for the capably, it was decided that Dick could sing them better and he looped them after the filming. Riha's stage mother was apparently incensed when Dick went public with that fact, since she was marketing her son as a triple-threat performer. He also wrote that he did initial voice work for Peanuts animation and no one realized he was adult, but when it was discovered,
insisted that the actors be children, nonetheless.
Dick also did a lot of work for Disney, including stints as Chip and/or Dale and Donald's nephews for records and cartoons.
If the voice of Dick Beals brings back memories for you, look for a multi-CD set called
in which he plays the lead.
"OH, YES IT'S TRUE. IT'S TERRIBLY TRUE. ENGLAND DOES SWING LIKE A PENDULUM DO."
Blog, TV, Records
Posted on Feb 29 2012 by Greg
That's one of the strange but funny lines spoken by Davy Jones
on the iconic '60s series The Monkees
, a show which completely fabricated a pop band for TV yet ironically, in catching the lightning in a bottle, launched a real, albeit dysfunctional, pop legend.
One fourth of that lightning, perhaps the most assured and polished one -- aka the "cute one" -- was Davy, the Manchester-born song-and-dance man who, according to several accounts, would "do forty-five minutes if the refrigerator light went on."
Already a contract actor/singer with Columbia Pictures (he released his own album on the Colpix label before The Monkees
), Davy was the first signed for the series. Another experienced young actor (and emerging singer), Micky Dolenz
, was combined with musician/composers Mike Nesmith
and Peter Tork
. With some improv training and backed by Don Kirshner
's dream-team of music writers and producers (including Neil Diamond, Carole King
, Harry Nilsson
and other icons), The Monkees burned up the music charts and the TV ratings right out of the gate.
In about a year, the eager young performers rebelled against Kirshner, asserted themselves as a genuine group and became one -- almost following a Beatles
-like rise and fallout about half the time. Their albums went from hook-driven solid gold to eclectic, experimental head-scratching curios, but always fascinating and beguiling. Their sole movie, the free-form Head
(co-written by Jack Nicholson
), literally featured the "pre-fab four" leaping off a bridge to a suicidal end, symbolically drawing a curtain over the original group as it was first concocted.
But Davy Jones remained the most accessible in the ensuing years, from appearances on The Brady Bunch
to in-jokes on Spongebob Squarepants
. He'd always be one of whatever three or sometimes four Monkees who reunited. He wrote his biography and kept recording albums for his own label, many of which are found on his website
I was privileged to interview Davy for various Disney Parks articles, as he was an annual fixture performer at the Flower Power Concert Series at Epcot
(he was scheduled to appear this May). He was a wonderful talker, his mind moving so rapidly that his thoughts would overlap. The Epcot
audience adored him and the feeling was mutual, not only during performances, but for autograph sessions at The American Adventure
. Much what he told me wasn't just about himself and performing, but about his wife and his daughters.
TV show, like the original TV Batman
, still holds up astonishingly well, for sheer, fearless, brash lunacy. Even though The Monkees' show owed much to Richard Lester
's Beatle films, watching a show every week, or every day in syndication, is different than watching movies, especially when you also have records to listen to between broadcasts. That was life as a kid in the mid-sixties. My friends and I sat around and listened to Monkee records, watched the show, collected Monkee bubble gum cards and so on.
Seeing them in concert for the first time in 1986 was like seeing the cast of Bewitched
or I Dream of Jeannie
live on stage. And the songs held up a hundred times better than the show.
Davy soloed on several of the biggest hits, particularly Valleri
and Daydream Believer
. These and other Monkee songs have been remade by other performers, and likely will last so long that few will even realize there was a "pre-fab four" that struggled for an artistic level and peer respect that always seemed a little out of their reach. But that didn't matter to the public, who love them and always well.
Davy's career, of course, encompassed more than The Monkees (his TV appearance as Broadway's Artful Dodger in Oliver!
on The Ed Sullivan Show
occurred, surprisingly, on the same night that The Beatles performed). But to most of us, he'll be the one who, when asked to stand up, would say "I am standing up" as a running Monkees gag. He never seemed to mind poking fun at himself or looking silly, as long as he was entertaining.
Somewhere up above, a refrigerator light has just lit up.
ONE OF TV'S FIRST ORIGINAL MUSICALS - FINALLY ON DVD!
Blog, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Dec 14 2011 by Greg
I have to admit to being more than a little misty-eyed after finally getting a chance to watch the original, live 1956 musical, The Stingiest Man in Town
, now on DVD. I had first seen the Rankin/Bass animated remake in 1978, then found the 1956 Columbia cast album and listened to it for 30 years, never expecting to actually see the live show itself -- unless maybe I got to visit the Paley Center
and they had it in their library.
To my delighted amazement, Video Artists International
located an astonishingly nice-looking kinescope with excellent sound -- and that sound is largely due to a certified Disney Legend: Tutti Camarata
Tutti was the conductor of this special 90-minute live presentation on The Alcoa Hour
. His ear for acoustics surely influenced how distinct the instrumentation come across, even in this vintage kinescope. In 1956, Disneyland Records had just begun, with Tutti as artists and repertoire director. You can hear his style in The Stingiest Man in Town
, as well as what was likely some arrangements by Maury Laws
, whom Tutti told me could have likely done some chart work for the special (the soaring violins in "An Old Fashioned Christmas" are just like the ones Laws created for such Rankin/Bass specials as Rudolph
You have to get a feel for the temporal context to fully appreciate how ambitious this live show truly was for its period. This was the day of Milton Berle
, Jackie Gleason
and other vaudeville-type live variety shows, as well as legendary live dramas on Playhouse 90
and Studio One
. Walt Disney's filmed series was less then two years on the air, Mickey Mouse Club
was in its second season and Howdy Doody
was still an NBC staple.Mary Martin's
TV tradition of Peter Pan
had begun a year earlier (as live shows until it was taped in 1960) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
would premiere a year later (live with Julie Andrews
, then taped in 1965 with Lesley Ann Warren
). I can't confirm this for sure, but that makes The Stingiest Man in Town
very likely the first -- or at least one
of the first -- original musicals created especially for television.
Director Dan Petrie
(A Raisin in the Sun
, Eleanor and Franklin
) worked with in what appears to be a very limited space, with tight, elemental, movable sets. (Notice the clever transitions, such as Basil Rathbone
sinking off camera in the graveyard while a "stand-in" hand grasps the tombstone, enabling Rathbone to race back to the bedroom set for his next scene.)
The cast, crew and orchestra clearly had a short rehearsal time to perform a show of this scope -- and that's what makes live TV so amazing. The cast, orchestra and chorus are right there, and if the singer misses a cue or changes tempo, the accompaniment has to keep up. Keeping all of this in mind, what unfolds is a remarkable achievement that was largely forgotten for decades, unless you happened to have the cast LP -- or this superb CD reissue
Young audiences may not sit still, at first, for the black-and-white, low-def, leisurely paced kinescope experience of the original Stingiest Man
-- more akin to a filmed stage show than a modern recorded and edited production. But if you can impress upon them the importance of these programs, how they paved the way for what we take for granted today (especially technical advances) and just enjoy the pure talent involved, they may find themselves beguiled.
These are some of the greatest Broadway talents of their day, top popular singers and of course, the great Rathbone, with a truly memorable musical score conducted by one of the most respected names in the music industry.
It might be fun if you watch this along with the Rankin/Bass animated remake (available in the above 2008 DVD set
) and listen to the cast album. In an ocean of Dickens Christmas Carol
adaptations, this particular version is one of the all-time finest.
BIG BIG CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG SOUNDTRACK NEWS!
Blog, Music, Records
Posted on Nov 12 2011 by Greg
Thanks to Kritzerland Records, there's a landmark soundtrack SPECIAL EDITION CD release
of the Sherman Brothers classic score to CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG
with expanded songs, tons of extra material, just a dream come true for fans.
From the Screen Archives Entertainment site:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was originally released on LP on United Artists Records (the film was distributed by UA). As was usual back then, songs were truncated, the mixes were occasionally weird, and no underscore was used. There have been two previous CD releases -- one on Ryko, who added dialogue snippets throughout the album, and then on Varese Sarabande (who omitted the dialogue snippets but basically used the Ryko master).
For our Very Very Special Special edition, we went back to the first generation album master there was, of course, no way to change the mix or the generous amount of reverb used, but our masterful mastering engineer, James Nelson, has worked as much magic as humanly possible to optimize the sound present on those original album masters.
We've also included the film's "Entr'Acte," the original "Main Title" (much longer than the album version -- presented here with sound effects, which are actually fun and sort of go with the music), and the film mix of the 'Exit Music. ' Following that, we give you the complete song and picture book album tracks, released concurrently with the soundtrack, and which features Richard M. Sherman himself singing, along with other vocalists, all conducted by Leroy Holmes.
On CD 2, we're very pleased to present all the film's demo recordings by Richard Sherman. Finally, we had access to all of the playback tracks used during filming. These were all in mono and not that great sounding, but we've included several of them because they were material not included on the original album. These include another version of the title song (with quite a long instrumental), an instrumental called "The Vulgarian Anthem," an instrumental of the "Chu-Chi Face" waltz, and a bit of the "Doll On A Music Box" not included on the original LP. Again, the sound on the playback tapes had distortion and not optimal sound, and mixes that were prepared specifically to be lip-synched to on set. But we thought they were of enough historical importance to include them.
1. Main Title
2. You Two
3. Toot Sweets
4. Hushabye Mountain
5. Me Ol' Bamboo
6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
7. Truly Scrumptious
8. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (reprise)
10. Lovely, Lonely Man
12. Hushabye Mountain (reprise)
13. The Roses Of Success
14. Chu-Chi Face
15. Doll On A Music Box & Truly Scrumptious
16. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale
17. Exit Music
18. Main Title (Film Version with sound effects)
19. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale (Film Mix)
20. Exit Music (Film Mix)
Soundtrack Conducted by Irwin Kostal
The Song and Picture Book Album - Richard Sherman & Lola Fisher Disc 2
21. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
22. You Two
23. Toot Sweets
24. Hushabye Mountain
25. Me Ol' Bamboo
26. Lovely, Lonely Man
28. Doll On A Music Box & Truly Scrumptious
29. Chu-Chi Face
30. The Roses Of Success
The Richard Sherman Demos
1. You Two
2. Toot Sweets
3. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
4. Truly Scrumptious
5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2
6. Lovely, Lonely Man
8. Hushabye Mountain
9. The Vulgarian Anthem
10. The Roses Of Success
11. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (children's reprise)
12. Hushabye Mountain (Grandfather's reprise)
13. Fun Fair
14. Lovely, Lonely Man/ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale
The Playback Tracks
15. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1
16. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2
17. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 3
18. The Vulgarian Anthem
19. Chu-Chi Face Waltz
20. Doll On A Music Box Parts 1-3