Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Let's Dance at Disneyland!
As you may know, I have become increasingly thrilled with iTunes’ release of heretofore out of print vintage Walt Disney Records from the ‘50s and ‘60s. The folks at iTunes seem to be releasing these albums in waves, a few at a time. A few complaints: It has been brought to my attention that they do not necessarily last a long time, so if you see one you have to have, it’s best to jump on it as it may not always be available. Additionally, it can be hard to pin down some of these records, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. A broad search for “Walt Disney Records” produces little except the latest Hannah Montana album. The best way, I have found, to browse for these vintage albums is by starting with the name of one such album or group that you know (for example “The Mellomen”) and then do a chain reaction search of sorts by clicking different albums in the box called, “Listeners also Bought” for more leads. It really is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack, but when you stumble upon something good, well, it’s almost like being a kid on Christmas morning again.
The newest wave of Walt Disney Records released brought a bunch of gems. My favorite, hands down, is a 1956 (only one year after the park opened) album, “Date Nite at Disneyland,” with the Elliott Brothers and Disneyland Date Niters Orchestra. Evidently the Elliott Brothers Orchestra was a regular entertainment staple around Disneyland in the 1950’s and ‘60s. They played in the big band/jazz/swing style that was popular at the time, providing evening entertainment for Friday and Saturday “Date Nites” at Disneyland during the summer (And evidently until 1 am?? Can anyone verify this?). It’s the kind of wholesome entertainment you would expect from the time, and which admittedly gets my toes tapping and wanting to strap on my Mary Janes for a twirl on the dance floor. It’s not difficult to imagine the hoards of teenagers coupling off under the striped canvas of the Carnation Plaza Gardens swinging and swaying with the bandstand raging on through the night.
Above image courtesy of the Vintage Disneyland Tickets Blog
Of course the “Date Nite at Disneyland” album is the most comprehensive Elliott Brothers’ Orchestra album I’m aware of. Their opening hit, “Let’s Dance at Disneyland” can also be found on the Musical History of Disneyland album. If you want to see the Elliott Brothers in action, there’s a great segment showcasing their talent in the “Disneyland After Dark” Episode on the Disneyland USA DVD which is part of the Disney Treasures Collection. Now that I mention it, that entire episode is well worth watching. It features some excellent footage of Annette Funicello, Bobby Rydell, the great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, and even a very young Osmond Brothers Quartet. Also of note, I found an interesting link to a list of big bands and artists who played at Disneyland at the BigBandLibrary.com website. It’s really mind boggling to think that such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie and his Orchestra have all played there.