"David Bonner's fascinating look at the nostalgic world of Young People's Records takes the reader far beyond memory lane and into the political and philosophical worlds of those who planned them, wrote them, and performed on them. The complicated history of a host of record labels that sprung from those children's discs, which Mr. Bonner recounts, adds to the tremendous value of his book. Anyone who grew up with these priceless records must read what's on these pages."—Peter Bay, Conductor, Austin Symphony Orchestra

"I grew up with Young People's Records. 'The Funniest Song In The World' featuring Groucho Marx and 'By Rocket To The Moon' with Raymond Scott helped mold the mind of the boy who became Dr. Demento. Here's the whole story of how those and hundreds of other YPR favorites were created by some of the most progressive thinkers and artists of their times, how they became a target for those in the McCarthy era and later those who sought to repress and confine the minds of young Americans, and how their spirit of joy in knowledge perseveres."—Dr Demento, Syndicated Radio Personality


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Loewenthal/Lowell: From Beethoven to Happity-Yappity Appetite


When researching RCR, I noticed that Eugene Lowell was identified as "Eugene Loewenthal" on his original YPR contract. (Actually, it might have been simply "Loewen" -- my notes are sketchy and my memory foggy.) I never followed up on this until recently. His wife had told me that he recorded with Stokowski in the 1930s, but I never knew which recording until I realized that there is a Eugene Loewenthal credited on Victor album M-236, a 1934 recording of Beethoven's 9th. According to the album insert, the chorus members were students at the Curtis School, which indeed Eugene was.

As far as I know, the only other commercial recordings on which Eugene appeared as Loewenthal (or Lowenthal) were the controversial trio of titles put out in 1946/47 by the Winant kidisk label. He portrays "Happity Yappity Appetite" on IT'S FUN TO EAT; "Brighty-White the Wall" on IT'S FUN TO BE NEAT; and "Happy Toy Chest" on PICK 'EM UP AND PUT 'EM AWAY AT TOY-TIME. These discs were universally panned by reviewers. Educator Beatrice Landeck called the first one "a superficial and high-handed treatment of a very delicate problem." Hecky Krasno and Philip Eisenberg observed that the "tunes are catchy, but if you have a feeding problem in the family we advise seeing your local psychologist"; they had similar comments about the other titles. Helmut Ripperger, proprietor of the Book and Record Shop in Manhattan, remembered: "When the [first] album arrived and we saw that the main character was Goodee assisted by Doc Clock, Happity-Yappity Appetite and Sip-Sup Supper we began to have slight misgivings which were ably and repeatedly confirmed by the unwary who wished to listen to it in the shop." The producers did, however, manage to get the progressive educator Angelo Patri to endorse it. (His endorsement does not appear on the successors.)

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