Archive for January, 2013

Cock A Doodle Doo!

Monday, January 28th, 2013

John Alcorn “Birds & Beasts” illustration, 1966.

Browsing my contacts’ uploads at Pinterest, I was taken by some sweet, eye-catching art from illustrator John Alcorn. The imagery came from a 1966 book, The Fireside Book of Children’s Songs (which I tracked down – thank you, eBay). As someone who loves art inspired by that funky, stylish Push Pin Studios aesthetic, this volume was a winner. The 192-page book is a simple concept, presenting sheet music for classic kiddie singalongs such as “There Was An Old Lady” and “Did You Ever See A Lassie?” The retro display fonts and Alcorn’s inventive artwork complement the songs in a cute, very ’60s-patchwork kinda way.

Alcorn’s folksy, whimsical art made him a very active man in the ’60s and ’70s – his art graces the fabulous packaging for Eve cigarettes, for one. The Fireside project must have been a huge endeavor for him; just about every page is packed with drawings printed in hot pink, mustard gold and burnt orange. The sampling of pages pictured here nicely represent the book’s art, and yet I might break out the scanner and put some more on my flickr account. There’s a veritable bushel-full of wild, fun, inspirational imagery in here, which makes me happy I bought it.

The Fireside Book of Children’s Songs.

“Mules”

“The Animal Song”

“Good Morning and Good Night”

“All Through The Night”

“Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!”

“The World Turned Upside Down”

Conceiving a Babi

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Christopher Geoffrey McPherson – The Babi Makers (2013).

We’ve spent the last few weeks working on the release of Christopher’s latest book, a cautionary sci-fi tale called The Babi Makers. The very concept of the book had my creative gears spinning, and I immediately thought of doing something that was contemporary, yet also evocative of funky old sci-fi things like Omni magazine art and paperback book covers from the ’50s and ’60s. I originally thought to have just a landscape in the bottom half, meant to represent the community of Nové depicted in the book. It wasn’t quite working, however, and that’s when Christopher thought up the idea of including figures looking over a cliff. That’s where it finally clicked.

The Babi Makers is available as a Kindle download, or as a paperback. Below, some imagery that guided me along in the design process.

Wassily Kandinsky – Variegated Black (1935).

Sci-fi paperback book covers, 1960s (Avon edition of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy).

Early OMNI magazine covers and art (July 1981 issue).

It’s Kind of a Cute Story

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Within the pages of the colorful, fun It’s Kind of a Cute Story, legendary Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump shares memories of an extraordinary life with the help of MiceChat.com writer Jeff Heimbuch. Since Rolly was heavily involved with the planning of Disneyland landmarks like the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s a small world, and the Haunted Mansion, I knew I was going to enjoy it (and I wasn’t disappointed). What really makes the book special, however, lies in how it gives a sense of Crump’s enthusiastic personality and eclectic interests – interests that have taken him well beyond the Disney company.

Prior to reading this book, I was vaguely aware that Rolly Crump was one of the more interesting guys at Disney. For proof, one needs to look no further than his interviews on the Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic DVD, where Rolly is seen (presumably in his home) with tasteful framed art of a naked woman hanging in the background. Boobies on a Disney DVD! The artwork in question, a portrait of entertainer Josephine Baker (reproduced in this book), sums up Crump’s funky, laid-back California vibe pretty well. That casual/cool feeling is reflected in the imagery generously spread throughout this book’s pages – and in the chatty, “cute” stories Rolly shares within. And what memories! Whether it’s being a grunt in the Disney animation department in the ’50s or overseeing massive projects for Jacques Cousteau and gambling titan Steve Wynn, he’s had an extraordinary career.

Were I to sum up the Crump aesthetic, I’d say it’s a little bit Disney, a little bit ’60s surf/beatnik culture, a little bit midcentury modern, and a whole lot of charm. One can definitely see the appeal his work had for Walt Disney in developing Disneyland (Disney obviously valued the younger, funkier insights Rolly had over his fellow imagineers). It kind of surprised me to read how much of Crump’s handiwork is around at Disneyland, even today – not just the obvious such as the still awe-inspiring small world façade or the charming statuary in the Tiki Room forecourt, but little things as well like the trash cans (and those themed figures churning the butter in the park’s popcorn machines? Crump’s idea.) Elsewhere, Crump delightully recounts his ideas for the earliest incarnation of the Haunted Mansion (when it was conceived as a walk-through attraction), preparations for the 1964 New York Worlds Fair, and his contributions toward various pavilions at EPCOT. While the Disney stuff is fascinating in itself, Crump also goes into detail on various projects involving other theme parks – and the efforts of his own company, Design 27 (this book is not authorized by the Disney company, which is a huge asset in my opinion).

Although the printing on this book leaves a little to be desired (the paper is thin), I would recommend It’s Kind of a Cute Story not only for Disney fans, but also for those who’d enjoy getting to know a unique guy who marches to his own, propeller-festooned drummer. The book is available here at Amazon.com.

The Happiest Planters on Earth, atop Tomorrowland’s stylish bandstand.

Crump’s layout of the Knott’s Bear-y Tales attraction.

The it’s a small world happy face clock? That’s Rolly’s, too!

Crump’s more recent stuff gets a lot of play here as well.

The funky Crump style in full flower.

A detail from the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room chapter.

Fun chapter headers and page footage mirror the Crump style nicely.

Too Good to Be Bad

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Since we’ve entered a fresh new year and avoided getting destroyed in a Mayan-predicted apocalypse, I believe it’s time for a new mix. Ladies and gents, He Doesn’t Love Me: Girl Pop 1964-66.

Female-sung pop from the ’60s counts as one of my favorite musical genres, but I haven’t had a mix that focuses exclusively on it until putting together He Doesn’t Love Me, a 31-track set that represents a bumper crop of under-appreciated gems from the years 1964-66. Having it focus on those three years is important – conventional pop history wisdom says that this period happened when the “Girl Group” sound was on the wane, steamrolled by The Beatles and a more aggressive Rock sound. The energetic, sometimes goofy, always fun tunes on this mix clearly show, however, that Girl Pop was mutating into something special (especially in England, where the Fab Four’s influence is more evident). Who cares that it wasn’t as popular? I’d even venture to say that much of this stuff can hold its own against The Beatles and their guy-group contemporaries. The passionately sung, impeccably arranged songs here betray the fact that most of them are b-sides, album cuts and failed singles.

This time, I decided to have the download as separate mp3 and m4a files, instead of the continuous mixes offered previously. Simply download, drag all the files into a playlist and enjoy.

Download He Doesn’t Love Me: Scrubbles.net Winter 2013 Mix (116 MB Zip file)

He Doesn’t Love Me is also available here (with a few substitutions) on Spotify.

Track listing:
1. Sharon Tandy – “Now That You’ve Gone” (Pye UK single, 1965)
2. Petula Clark – “Life and Soul of the Party” (My Love LP cut, 1966)
3. The Supremes – “Mother Dear” (More Hits By The Supremes LP cut, 1965)
4. Jan Panter – “Put Yourself in My Place” (Pye UK single b-side, 1966)
5. Lulu Porter – “Nobody Hurt But Me” (Pep single, 1965)
6. Skeeter Davis – “Don’t Let Me Stand in Your Way” (RCA Victor single b-side, 1964)
7. Reparata & The Delrons – “Bye Bye Baby” (Whenever A Teenager Cries LP cut, 1965)
8. The Rag Dolls – “Society Girl” (Parkway single, 1964)
9. Denise Germaine – “He’s a Strange One” (ABC Paramount single, 1964)
10. The Lewis Sisters – “He’s an Oddball” (V.I.P. single, 1965)
11. Molly Bee – “He Doesn’t Want You” (Liberty single, 1964)
12. Jeanne Thomas – “Too Good to Be Bad” (New Voice single b-side, 1965)
13. Gerri Thomas – “Look What I Got” (World Artists single, 1965)
14. Piccola Pupa – “Put Two Extra Candles on My Cake” (Warner Bros. single b-side, 1965)
15. Yvonne Prenosilova – “Come On Home” (Pye UK single b-side, 1965)
16. Tina Britt – “The Real Thing” (Eastern single, 1965)
17. Martha & The Vandellas – “Never Leave Your Baby’s Side” (Gordy single b-side, 1966)
18. Julie Grant – “As Long as I Know He’s Mine” (Pye UK single b-side, 1965)
19. Sandra Barry – “You Can Take It from Me” (Pye UK single b-side, 1965)
20. The Essex featuring Anita Humes – “Don’t Fight It Baby” (Roulette single, 1964)
21. Cathy Carroll – “Where the Roses Are Growing” (Rotate single, circa 1964)
22. Connie Haines – “What’s Easy for Two Is Hard for One” (Motown single, 1966)
23. The Marvelettes – “Little Girls Grow Up” (Tamla recording session outtake, 1965)
24. Tracey Dey – “I Won’t Tell” (Amy single, 1964)
25. The Breakaways – “He Doesn’t Love Me” (Pye UK single b-side, 1964)
26. The Royalettes – “It’s a Big Mistake” (MGM single, 1966)
27. Toni Carroll – “Welcome Home Baby” (MGM single, 1965)
28. The Sherry Sisters – “Sailor Boy” (Epic single, 1964)
29. Christine Cooper – “S.O.S. (Heart in Distress)” (Parkway single, 1966)
30. Jackie DeShannon – “So Long Johnny” (Imperial single b-side, 1966)
31. Lesley Gore – “I Just Don’t Know if I Can” (Mercury single b-side, 1966)