Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Picture This

On visits to car boot sales I often see LPs and singles produced to exploit the lucrative children's market, many of them relating to successful films and TV shows, and the majority featuring characters and stories from cartoon animations.

At a chilly boot sale at the end of October last year I was delighted to spot this, and quickly snapped it up for £1:

More Willo The Wisp Stories - Narrated by Kenneth Williams (1983)

This LP on the BBC's in-house record label contains the audio from twelve episodes of the hugely popular TV series Willo The Wisp, of which there were 26 episodes in all (if you don't include a 90s remake, which I don't).  A dozen more can be found on the 1981 original release titled simply 'Willo The Wisp', but that one is seemingly a little harder to find.

The great Kenneth Williams voices the narrator of the title, and lead character Mavis, the very definition of an airy-fairy, with a heart of gold and a head full of not very much.  Williams' astonishing array of comic voices also brings to life her friends, who include Arthur, the cockney know-it-all caterpillar; and Moog (my favourite), a friendly but brainless dog-like character who regularly demonstrates that ignorance is indeed bliss.  The villain of Doyley Woods is Evil Edna; a walking, talking television set with wickedly magical antennae.  This used to make me and my sisters laugh a lot, since we have a nana named Edna.

Although some of the visual gags are lost without the animation, the 5-minute stories are still as sharp and funny as I remember them, in particular one called Magic Golf where poor Mavis (or "Mave" as Arthur calls her) loses the star on the end of her wand and with the help of her chums has to wing an inspection from the Dept. of Spells & Magic in order to advance to the position of 2-Star Fairy.

The collection is littered with fab BBC sound effects, including some some lovely Radiophonic Workshop-evoking "zap"s on The Joys Of Spring.  And of course you get the theme music bookending each story, that will take those of a certain age straight back to weekday teatimes just before the 5:40pm news.  Happily, a whole bunch can be found on YouTube, and since it's the appropriate time of year, here's The Joys Of Spring.

Be careful though; if you're anything like me you'll be drawn into a Willo The Wisp rabbit hole for the next couple of hours.

Well all right, just one more.  Here's The Thoughts Of Moog:

Bought the same day and also costing a pound was this LP from Hanna-Barbera Productions:

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo - Little Red Riding Hood and Jack & The Beanstalk

Tucked up in their cave for winter, here Jellystone's smarter-than-average bear tells his old pal Boo Boo a couple of pre-hibernation bedtime stories.  The whole thing has a fun 60s vibe, the opening theme a perfect beat group pastiche, and Jack of Beanstalk fame described by Yogi as a dropout who'd sold all his personal possessions, "even his Beatle records" - imagine that!  Funniest of all is Little Red Riding Hood, portrayed as a sneaker-wearing, scooter-riding, jive-talking (she calls her Grandmother "baby") teenager.  Just like the original Red she takes zero nonsense from the Big Bad Wolf, but in this incarnation adds some Judo moves to subdue him, rather than relying on some random man with an axe to turn up and save her.

The almost constant incidental music and zippy SFX keep the stories moving at an engaging pace, and both tales are summed up in song; Jack's by a minstrel wielding a jangly guitar, and Red's in the form of a beat-style reading over a cool, finger-snappin' jazzy background.  Groovy.

In August last year I bought a pile of 50 pence 7" singles from one stall, among them this little beauty:

Tweety Pie - I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat b/w Bugs Bunny - I'm Glad That I'm
Bugs Bunny (1970)

This 1970 single is on Music For Pleasure's children's imprint 'Surprise Surprise', and contains two Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies songs recorded and originally released on 78rpm shellac in 1950.  They feature three characters from the "Man Of 1000 Voices" Mel Blanc; Tweety and his nemesis Sylvester on I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat (as played on the latest CBVD cloudcast) and our favourite rabbit on the b-side, with I'm Glad That I'm Bugs Bunny.  Both sign off with the Looney Tunes, er, tune, which is worth the 50p alone as far as I'm concerned.

Less good value for money was this, bought for £1 the following weekend:

Scooby Doo and the Snowmen Mystery (1973)

Scooby Doo and the Snowmen Mystery was released in 1973 as part of Music For Pleasure's 'Merry Go Round' series.  I was quite excited to find this, until upon listening it became clear that MfP's budget didn't run to hiring Don Messick and co. to play their parts, or even to licencing original material from CBS.  Instead, a handful of British voice actors were employed, which unfortunately is glaringly obvious from the collection of ropey US accents on display.  Fred actually sounds more like the original Shaggy, but worst of all is poor Daphne; saddled with a gruffer voice than the original Velma, she gives Dick Van Dyke's cockney chimney sweep a run for his money in the comedy accent stakes, as well as sounding like she's got a serious problem with tranquilisers.

Still, if you can get past this, the story isn't so bad.  After more beat group pastiche on intro song Mystery Incorporated the gang interrupt their vacation to investigate strange goings-on in Switzerland.  Their adventures lead them to uncover the usual plot by a super-baddie to take over the world, and there are some decent sound effects and musical interludes to keep things fresh.

Here's a small taste of Scoob and Shaggy's dialogue, followed by the Bacharach-ian What Would I Do Without You, to play us out.