10/30/20

Basil Rathbone Reads Edgar Allan Poe (Caedmon, 1960)

 

By luck, I just found this LP at a flea market last weekend!  Happy Halloween, but don't consider this a timely post:  I was greatly offended the other day when somebody asked me, "What's a good monster movie I can watch for Halloween?" I responded, "Monster movies are not Halloween movies...they are everyday movies."

10/20/20

HEY YOU GUYS! An Electric Company Collection - disc three (Leaping Fox)

 

Today we conclude our three-disc set paying tribute to THE ELECTRIC COMPANY, one of the greatest things that ever happened.  Where our previous discs focused on lots of material that was put out on records, this last one is 100% audio from the actual program.  In other words, here are songs that not only were presented on the show (you can compare a couple that are here to their LP versions), but also several that accompanied some amazing animated segments and short films that made up the program! There are some real gems here, because, as I mentioned before, they were written and performed by extraordinary talent, rather than tossed off by disgruntled kids' show staff who were paid to fill space.  Just try--TRY, I dare you--to get past tracks like the stupendous "Right On" or "This Lollypop is Following Me" without repeating them in endless loops, over and over.  Try not to marvel at "Boris the Boxer" or wallow in nostalgia with "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea." Also try not to be drawn in by the pure unrelenting funk of numbers like "Steady Freddy," "Hey Diddle Diddle," or "TION."  It was a great time to be alive.

Which leads us to the point I made earlier, about what we can't enjoy because CTW or United Sesame Socialist Republic, or whatever they are called now, won't release it.  I'd put money on the fact that, like me, you are thinking of some EC songs right now that you can only hear in your dimming memory.  For me, it's "I'm a sloppy, sloppy, sloppy slob!" or the one I want the most, "I would, if I could, but I can't...so I won't!"  Anyone remember those? We can only hope this, like so many wrongs in the world, are one day corrected! In the meantime, enjoy this final disc!


10/15/20

HEY YOU GUYS! An Electric Company Collection - disc two (Leaping Fox)

 

Continuing with my new set paying tribute to THE ELECTRIC COMPANY, here is disc two! This disc starts where the last one left off:  the presentation of the two book-and-record sets concludes the recorded output that was officially released (and, the scans for the books are also included, so that you can follow along).  

The stellar theme for the show was one of Joe Raposo's finest moments (in a long list), and the next section presents all of the various versions, spread across six seasons, with both opening and closing themes.  (There are some extras, too, such as an officially-released unique version from a promo 45, a unique mix from a documentary, and even an unusual "cover" version from a children's record.) Some of the daily promos were also included, because I know that in the minds and hearts of fans who grew up with the show, they are part of the themes to them! 
Any discussion of ELECTRIC COMPANY themes must not leave out the Spider-Man segments, which included an incredibly iconic and memorable theme by Gary Friedman. The different versions are included here, as well as the full-length one that he released on a promo 45 in 1975. Next, we have an example of one of the most famous EC segments, Letterman! I included it here, as opposed to disc 3, because of the great music that these segments had (as well as great voice actors).

Finally, no discussion of the ELECTRIC COMPANY is complete, either, without including the songs that Tom Lehrer supplied for the show.  Long-time visitors to The Sphinx will know that we are huge Tom Lehrer fans here (search this site for SEVERAL Lehrer rarities that I moved to Google Drive, to maintain the links! In fact, Mr. Lehrer was kind enough to allow me to keep offering them here!) There are actually a couple of items here that got left out of my TOM LEHRER RARITIES sets, while everything else has been improved in some way, so don't miss these!  Unfortunately, the tenth and last Lehrer ELECTRIC COMPANY song (entitled "Without an S") still remains unavailable.  However, the info section of this download does include the lyrics, so we can have some idea of how this would have sounded. This section concludes with a 9&1/2 minute interview Mr. Lehrer did that was included as a bonus track on the ELECTRIC COMPANY GREATEST HITS AND BITS documentary.

Like I said, don't miss this one! Enjoy! DISC TWO HERE.

10/12/20

GODZILLA - "The Firebird" (Hanna-Barbera Pilot Script, 1978)

 

Here is something I picked up in months past.  This is a production-used script for the first episode of the Hanna-Barbera GODZILLA animated series, which was called "The Firebird."  It's dated March 7, 1978 and runs 52 pages.  My original intent was to scan it, but when I unpacked it, I realized I didn't want to undo the way it was stapled together...so instead, I took some photos of some key pages to share, so that you can get a look behind the process of what animation used to be like.  Note that the front of the script bears letters "HAK" written in pencil, which I believe is a someone's initials who was associated with the show.  If you know who, please chime in!






The next few pages include an action-packed battle between Godzilla and the monster of the title:





And finally, the end of the battle, as well as the end of the episode, complete with goofy Godzooky moment [ "APOLOGETIC HONK"]:



10/7/20

HEY YOU GUYS! An Electric Company Collection - disc one (Leaping Fox)

 

I still get the urge to make compilations every once in a while, and here is the one that's been at the top of my list for a long time.

What can't be said about THE ELECTRIC COMPANY? If you were around and watching public television as a kid, between the years of 1971 and 1985, then a great deal of your training for reading came from this amazing show.  It was wonderful, trippy, and hilarious; written in ways that didn't insult the intelligence of the viewers who were the target audience, and was accomplished with a dream team of cast, writers, and musicians (this is the part where people always talk about Morgan Freeman, but the entire cast was equally omni-talented).  It overflowed with sketch comedy, cool animations, and surreal visuals from the cutting-edge technology of the day, like Scanimate and Chroma-key.  It was the cooler older brother of Sesame Street, and, beginning in 1974, it had the first official live-action portrayal of Spider-Man, ever. 


Amazingly, though, in comparison to CTW's cash cow that was Sesame Street, The Electric Company had precious little merchandising.  You can very nearly count the items on one hand.  Sesame Street, of course, had a flood, and seemingly cranked out records by the day, but The Electric Company was only allowed to produce a total of one LP featuring songs and cast members from the show.  Which is ironic, because the program featured some of the same geniuses writing the songs...and there were tons of songs! (But, of course, no Muppets to serve as mascots for the show...Electric Company tried a Scanimate chicken puppet early on, but it didn't stick.)

After six seasons, the last two were repeated for several years...and then, it disappeared.  Fans (including this author) wrote letters to CTW, and the hold-up seemed to be that they were slowly preparing to launch their own network, NOGGIN (I remember their return letter even saying something about this), but even when that happened, they only utilized a very small percentage of the 780 episodes available.  NOGGIN, of course, went away, and after some time, Shout Factory released a boxed set of DVD's featuring episodes from the show, in 2006.  It wasn't perfect, and some episodes were messed with [supposedly licensing only allowed for a couple of Spidey segments to be included...which makes no sense at all], but, needless to say, the set was enormously popular, and a second one followed. After this, two groups of 15 episodes were placed on iTunes (and are still there), almost as if they were intended for another box set that fell through.  

And then...well, since that time, we have been back in the "nothing happened" category. Hundreds and hundreds of complete episodes remain in a vault somewhere, including tons of skits, songs, and Spidey segments that only exist as faint memories in the back of the minds of aging fans.  Apparently, no one is interested in making these available, and as we all know, few studios are taking any risks or spending any money these days.  But, wouldn't an online archive, at the very least, be a feasible possibility? After all, these shows could be carrying on their work of teaching upcoming generations to read.

And that's what this set debuting here today is about:  preserving, and celebrating, the audio of The Electric Company, because nobody else will do it. There will be three discs total, and this first one will present their only two LPs.  "Wait--" I hear you cry, "up above somewhere, you said there was only one LP made!"  Yes, yes I did--this is because the second album was comprised of Spidey Super Stories adventures and issued on Peter Pan Records.  But, hang on, we will get to that momentarily.  Here is what's included on the first disc:
1) THE ELECTRIC COMPANY (Warner Bros. Records, 1972).  This official cast LP works like an audio episode of the show.  It features the first-year cast, includes two Tom Lehrer songs, and is quite entertaining overall.  It was issued more than once, the first time with a die-cut cover, which featured a turning wheel--in other words, it's LED ZEPPELIN III, except teaching kids to read.  The LP also included a 24-page full-color book, which I have dutifully scanned and included herein! 
I should point out that later editions omitted the cover feature, but still included the book....except for one bizarre 1974 "budget" edition with a totally different cover, that was on Sesame Street records.  This strange version cut out over 15 minutes of content, and severely edited other tracks.  [Upon close inspection, it dawned on me that all of this was apparently done to remove Bill Cosby completely, as he had left at some point in 1972....today, somebody would do this for an entirely different reason, of course.] 
The tracks that were edited are included as bonus tracks.  All of the album covers are included in the Info section, as well. 

2) SPIDEY SUPER STORIES (Peter Pan Records, 1977).  Around this time, a deal was made with Peter Pan Records to produce some read-along storybook sets [of which there are two, which will appear on disc two], as well as this album, which brought to life some Spidey Super Stories adventures from the show and the comic of the same name.  I can say nothing more except:  I wore out my copy of this LP.  I carried it to school.  I had it memorized.  I made my kids listen to it over the years....It is sacred to me.


In the following two discs, we will present The Electric Company theme and all of its many permutations from the six seasons, other segment themes, some other surprises from the show, the canon of Tom Lehrer songs written for The Electric Company (one is still sadly unavailable, I'll tell you right now), and many more song favorites, so stay tuned.

Paul has five seconds to read the next words...can you read them before he doesDISC ONE HERE.

RODAN / GORGO Double Feature Ad Slick!

 

Here is an ad slick for a dream double feature of GORGO and RODAN! How cool is this?!! 

It only serves to remind me, in this sad time, how dreadful the state of movies, and theaters, is today.  (You can take that statement either way, but I mean aside from the virus.)

10/6/20

GODZILLA'S REVENGE / WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS / MONSTER ZERO Triple-Feature Ad Slick (UPA)

 

Here is a great ad slick for a triple feature of GODZILLA'S REVENGE, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, and MONSTER ZERO (of which, the latter two were already together in the US).  Just drop me off early, Ma, I am staying at the theater all day! What a dream.