Monday, February 27, 2012
Disneyland Records: The Cowardly Lion of Oz
So, this album was the only one in which we had an entirely original story by the folks at Disneyland Records. Oz fans also seek this one out because some of the songs were originally intended for The Rainbow Road to Oz. Those wanting just the songs can also look for them on The Songs from the Wizard of Oz (Plus Songs About the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion) album, in which they appear on the B side, albeit in a different order.
This was the hardest of the four Story and Songs albums for me to track down. I'd only once seen it on eBay and had had to pass on it then. Their Wizard of Oz and Tin Woodman (next time!) seem to be easy to find, while Scarecrow (which one fan told me he considered the rarest), I saw a copy at the Winkie Silent Auction last year and found two different copies online when I bought mine. I managed to find Cowardly Lion through an Amazon seller who had a really low price for it. Not only was the low price a draw for me, but I seriously couldn't find it anywhere else. Well, if any are rare, I'm glad to say I own one copy of each in my collection!
The Cowardly Lion sets out and meets a girl named Forget-Me-Not who forgets everything, including her own name. She's puzzling over an Ozphabet book, which the Cowardly Lion explains to her in the song "The Ozphabet." H is for Scarecrow, because he's hay-filled (which we know is inaccurate because the Scarecrow thinks hay is an inferior stuffing material); T is for Woodman, because he's made of tin; G is for Tea, because it's green; C is for Lion, because he's cowardly (or cute).
Forget-Me-Not is reminded that she saw a puppet show in a nearby town, so she joins the Cowardly Lion in his search. However, Smarmy pops up and defies the Lion, making him fall into a pit, and she sings "Just Call Smarmy." But Forget-Me-Not helps the Lion out when the witch leaves, and they soon enter the town.
Tying up the two villains, they head to Glinda's. Paul, Flora, and Forget-Me-Not are returned home, but not before King Maydor declares an Oziday, which is a holiday anywhere else. (In the Ozphabet, you find it under J for "joyous.") The Lion tells Glinda he wasn't so sure of himself at times, but she assures him with the song "If You'll Just Believe" (another Rainbow Road song) that she believed in him all the time.
If you remember my blog about Thompson's actual book The Cowardly Lion of Oz, I didn't like it that much. So, I think Disneyland Records did all right by opting not to adapt it.
The songs are pretty fun and enjoyable, but I think Side 1 has too many. "Living a Lovely Life" is too quickly followed by "Trouble in Oz." In fact, Side 1 doesn't have much of the plot, either. In the 11-page picture book the album opens into, the entire plot of the first side is told on the first two pages.
But overall, it's a pretty good story, Disney's The Cowardly Lion of Oz. Though it does beg the question, what on earth is the Cowardly Lion going to do with a lifetime pass to Disneyland?
(Sorry for the image quality. Since my scanner is not large enough to scan a record album, I had to photograph instead.)