"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


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Henry Brant 1913-2008

Henry Brant, composer of PENNY WHISTLE, KITCHEN MUSIC, and THE LONESOME HOUSE, died this past Saturday, 26 April 2008. He was 94. I believe that KITCHEN MUSIC, which was commissioned by Young People's Records in 1946, was only the second recording ever made of Brant's music -- the first being EIGHT SONGS FOR SOPRANO, THREE VIOLAS, AND PIANO which was issued by the New Music Quarterly Recordings label in about 1937. YPR's Horace Grenell later recorded several of Brant's pieces for the American Recording Society and Desto labels. I should also mention the wonderful orchestral arrangements he did for the Charity Bailey records SINGING IN THE KITCHEN and MORE PLAYTIME SONGS ("LOOK AT MICHIE BANJO"), both issued by Young People's Records, the latter also by Children's Record Guild. And if you haven't heard THE LONESOME HOUSE, it might be the most musically unusual children's record ever made, so look for it on Ebay. Here's the Washington Post obit.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lester Troob 1912-2008

Lester Troob, one of the main movers of Young People's Records, died on 22 March 2008. He was 95. His career in the record biz goes back to the mid-1930s, when he was among the first to work with lacquer ("acetate") disc recordings. During World War II, he was a recording supervisor in the news division of the Office of War Information. He was with Young People's Records from the beginning, as production manager and, later, President. After YPR, he developed the recording division of the Book-of-the-Month-Club, which he ran from 1954 to 1979. In 1953, he was the film editor and music supervisor of the classic movie Little Fugitive, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. Lester is a major character in my book, and I remember him with great fondness.