There was such a boatload of Beatles knock-offs during the first wave of Beatlemania, I wonder if anyone has catalogued them all? Golden/A.A. Records wasn't expecting this effort--arranged by Milton DeLugg and performed by Wynken, Blinken, and Nod--to make much of a splash, but Dance and Sing Mother Goose with a Beatle Beat turned out to be the outfit's sleeper release for the year (1964). Well, not really, but I think it's safe to call this LP the best-ever attempt to merge Mother Goose nursery rhymes with 1964 teen dance beats. The only one, probably.
This was a surprise. And the surprise is not that a children's record label would release an LP of nursery rhymes with a British Invasion feel--any and every excuse to Beatles-link a collection of tracks, whatever those tracks may be (nursery rhymes, Poe adaptations, train sounds, belly-dancing instructions) was used in those days, and when all existing excuses were exhausted, new ones were made up. As Beatles tie-ins go, this one is actually pretty conventional. What's surprising is that it was done so well, that everyone took the project seriously. Low-budget LPs for children--especially albums based on current crazes--were not usually this thoughtfully or skillfully conceived, but what we have here, against all odds, is a collection of amusing texts and expert, studio-level backings that really rock the shoe. Since it's Milton DeLugg behind the music, I guess we couldn't expect anything less than expert arrangements, but the lyricists--Jeff Harris and Ann DeLugg--do expert work, too--nothing like the phoned-in rush job we might expect with such a kiddie effort. In fact, the words get pretty hardcore at times--take these (to Three Blind Moose): "The moose hung Bruce, The moose hung Bruce, He hangs in a caboose, He hangs in a caboose. Now, Bruce was a goose, was a goose on the loose, But Bruce wasn't loose when they put on the noose, And the three moose have got Bruce's loose goose juice, For three blind moose, Three blind moose." The perfect lullaby for little sleepyheads. "So, they (yawn) hung Bruce and drained his juice and (yawn) the blind moose got some goose juice?"--Child. "That's right, dear. Sweet dreams."--Mother. Three hours later, the child wakes up yelling. Clever verses, though they might work better for, say, Boris Karloff Reads Mother Goose for Naughty Children.posted here. Great way to save on production costs: use the same instrumental tracks twice--once, for backing, and the next time, as solo numbers. Hard to be sure with this label's weird catalog scheme, but it would appear The Beatle Beat followed Dance and Sing Mother Goose with a Beatle Beat, which must mean someone said, "Hey, why don't we recycle these tracks using titles that vaguely reference the song names?" The Mother Goose LP also came out in EP issues as part of the Nursery Beat Series. In fact, it looks like these selections made up the whole of the Nursey Beat Series.
I forgot to mention The Golden Rock-a-Twisters, who assist Wynken, Blinken, and Nod. And it just occurred to me that the "moose juice" lyrics are all the more perverse, given that this is a Mother Goose-themed LP. A Mother Goose rhyme about a captured and killed goose? And I can't believe I just typed "Mother Goose-themed LP." Anyway, maybe the Beatlemania craze was regarded by some in the recording industry as not merely peculiar and unconventional, but potentially harmful. This could account for the occasionally disturbing lyrics here. Actually, I'm deliberately overanalyzing things to up the word count, so as to maintain a balance between text and image. With New Blogger, there's no way to be sure how things are going to coordinate (or not coordinate) in that regard.
And the preview image indicates I have more space to fill. Well, how about that jacket art, which is very nice, though I can't make out the artist's signature? Everyone and everything has a Beatle wig, including the clock, cat, and mouse, though I don't recall any mention of the cat in Hickory Dickory Rock (which is called Hickory-Dickory-Dock on the jacket). I don't quite get the banana with the glasses, vest, and Beatle hair--I don't recall any lyrics along that line--though there are the three blind moose twisting away, Snoopy-style, with Bruce the Goose mercifully left out of the picture.
Why does Blinken (pictured under the drummer) have four arms and four legs? Weird. And I'm assuming Nod is the Paul McCartney-looking guy with the tiny guitar (to the left of the moose). Except he's egg-shaped, which would suggest Humpty Dumpty in a Beatle wig, and I think I'll just quit trying to make sense out of this...
DOWNLOAD: Dance and Sing Mother Goose With a Beatle Beat (Golden Records LP 127; 1964)