Monday, August 06, 2007

Hanna-Barbera Organ & Chimes - Merry Christmas

This one almost had me in its tentacles. eBay had several copies tempting me to spend $20 or more to get my own LP. Thankfully, I checked out the cool wax.

Brainwerk runs the fun sharity blog entitled "Check The Cool Wax" whose great Christmas comp I reviewed here earlier this year. Last November, he posted this album and I was able to scratch this one off my list.

By the looks of the cover, it promises to be a fun, fun album. Fast Freddy Flintstone on the stalagmite organ, Snagglepuss pickin' the bass, Huckleberry Hounddog on the chimes, and don't forget Magilla Gorilla on the triangle!

But we're putting the cartoon horse before the cartoon cart. We have to go back to 1939 for the beginning of this story.

On the backlot of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer stood the animation studio where William Hanna and Joseph Barbera first met. They had an instant rapport and set to complete their first collaboration - a 1940 cartoon called "Puss Gets The Boot". This simple cartoon pitted a tom cat against a clever mouse. Hence, Tom and Jerry were born.

For the next seventeen years, Hanna & Barbera and Tom & Jerry created one minor masterpiece after the other. Shortly before MGM closed the animation studio in 1957, the duo had won eight Academy Awards and formed a successful animation company of their own (which did side work like the animated titles for "I Love Lucy").

Hanna & Barbera took aim at the growing number of kids thru television. By 1961, they had their first hits on the tube with "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" and were planning their most ambitious gamble yet - a prime time animated television series for ABC that featured some caveman guy yelling a three word phrase...

"The Flintstones" was a phenomenon. It quickly spawned off merchandising, feature length movies, and even a commercial or two:



During the massive wave of Hanna-Barbera products, this album was recorded and released by Hanna-Barbera Records (go figure) for Christmas, 1965. Look at the cover closely again. Let your eye wander to the left where it says "Featuring The Hanna-Barbera Organ & Chimes".

Yep, this whole album is one guy playing the organ, another person on the chimes, and occasionally you'll hear the piano and sleigh bells. "Jingle Bells" is the only song on the album that has any life, the rest are dull with an occasional hint of cartoon color. I suppose if you close your eyes and concentrate hard enough, your mind will allow you to imagine the pantheon of Hanna-Barbera stars at Christmas time. The music alone will barely get it done.

Following the demise of the modern stone-age family in 1966, H & B continued to put out cartoons at an alarming rate. At one point, it was estimated that three out of four animated shows between 1961 and 1977 came from the Hanna-Barbera studios.

Favorite characters during this period included Snagglepuss, The Jetsons, Top Cat, Jonny Quest, Yogi Bear, Wally Gator, Atom Ant, Magilla Gorilla, Birdman & The Galaxy Trio (the inspiration for "Harvey Birdman, Atty At Law"), Scooby Doo, Josie & The Pussycats, Charlie Chan & The Chan Clan, The SuperFriends & Justice League, The Funky Phantom, SpeedBuggy, and Jabberjaw.

If I forgot one of your favorites, leave a comment below.

By the mid to late 1970s, Hanna-Barbera decade long domination of the airwaves was beginning to wane. The production was beginning to suffer as "talking heads" and action implied off screen became the norm.

We had seen every variation of "The Flintstones" and "Scooby-Doo" imaginable (including the much hated Scrappy Doo) and very little new original animated series. It got so bad that H &B began animating "Happy Days" and "Mork & Mindy" for Saturday morning fare in the early 1980s. At decade's end, the cash cow had died and Hanna-Barbera was strapped for cash.

Enter Ted Turner. In 1991, Turner bought out H & B and began the Cartoon Network. While many of the older shows took up space, a new generation of animators came to work for H & B and began to think outside the box. We were rewarded with shows like "Johnny Bravo", "Dexter's Laboratory", and "The Powerpuff Girls". Hanna & Barbera are constant inspirations on Adult Swim, "Robot Chicken", and "Robert Smigel's Funhouse" on SNL.

At their induction into the Television Hall Of Fame in 1994, Joseph Barbara (who died last December at the age of 95) turned to his lifelong partner William Hanna (who died in 2001 at the age of 90) and said "their hasn't been a week that went by that I didn't say to you three magical words. Yabba Dabba Doo". The gents shook hands and wandered off into rerun heaven.


UP NEXT: What I downloaded on November 21, 2006 at 12:43 PM.


Capt

4 comments:

Dave said...

I was hoping this was a downloadable LP offering. It's one of only 4 HB LPs I don't have. Mainly for the saem reason you mention not wanting to buy one off ebay.
Dave

CaptainOT said...

Dave - As a veteran of getting burned by eBay many times over, I'm glad I waited on this one!


Capt

Anonymous said...

a new link to this album would be great

CaptainOT said...

Anon - I never posted this album. My friend Brainwerk at Check Out The Cool Wax did.

Find the links above in the yuleblog entry and ask Brain real nice... he might just repost it (if he hasn't already!).


Capt