Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Disneyland Records: The Wizard of Oz

1969, Disneyland Records decided to do more Oz records. The big one, right over to the left there, was their first. Yes, this time, they went for the big title: The Story and Songs of The Wizard of Oz.

The record opens with the studio chorus singing "Over The Rainbow," Then a rather... mature-sounding Dorothy introduces and tells the story.

The story adaptation is rather basic, but at times the text closely follows Baum's text. The MGM songs were licensed for the album. When Dorothy lands in Oz, the Munchkins sing "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!" with the additional opening lyrics. Which doesn't make much sense because part of the lyric is "'Till one fine day from Kansas way," but at this time, the Munchkins don't know where the house came from. The Scarecrow and the chorus sing "If I Only Had A Brain," "Follow The Yellow Brick Road/We're Off To See The Wizard" plays during the journey, "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!" is reprised when the Wicked Witch of the West dies, and at the end, "The Merry Old Land of Oz" plays.

The Kalidahs and the river are not included, nor is the Lion falling asleep in the poppy field, so his rescue is also removed. The four friends visit the Wizard in the reverse order from the book with the Lion being first and Dorothy being last. The Wicked Witch's attacks are shortened to just the wolves, crows, and Winged Monkeys. There is also no mention of the Golden Cap. No details are told about the trip to Glinda, just that it was a long journey.

Overall, a really good adaptation. I kind of wish they could have kept Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow for the rest of these records, but I guess he would have been out of the budget. The guy playing him does a really goofy voice.

This album also opened into an 11-page picture book with a brief retelling of the story.

Now, Disney did another album with the MGM songs on it. However, this album, The Songs from The Wizard of Oz (Plus Songs About The Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion), contained the songs exactly as they were heard on the Story and Songs album, just in a different order. Rounding out side one was "Happy Glow" from The Scarecrow of Oz record (too bad they didn't include the "Over The Rainbow" cover from it as well).

Side two features the songs from the next Disneyland Oz story and songs album: The Cowardly Lion of Oz. But you'll hear about those later.

Finally, in 1970, Disney added The Wizard of Oz to their line of Read Along book and record sets. While the art style was the same as the large record, the pictures and story adaptation were completely different. The story is read by Hal Smith (Otis from The Andy Griffith Show).

The story is much more abbreviated. No incidents are noted in between the Cowardly Lion joining the party and arriving at the Emerald City, where the Wizard, depicted as a man, only sees Dorothy. Right away the Wicked Witch of the West calls the Winged Monkeys, and Dorothy very quickly deals with her. And it is the Wizard who tells Dorothy how to get home, so his departure in the balloon is not included, nor is Glinda.

At the end of the story, the songs "Over The Rainbow" and "Follow The Yellow Brick Road/We're Off To See The Wizard" are played.

A very basic, simple adaptation. Worthwhile for the art and for Disney's excellent audio production values.

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