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Animation + Rock = Fun: The Danny Hutton Interview

Animation + Rock = Fun: The Danny Hutton Interview

 

by Chris Davidson

Pal to big Brian Wilson, L.A. scenester of long-standing (and, oh yeah, one-third of Three Dog Night!), Danny Hutton will live forever in the collective bubblegum consciousness for one additional and amazing reason: he worked for the grandpappy of cartoon rock labels—Hanna Barbera Records.  For a year beginning in 1965, Hutton acted as the label’s resident hip youngster and recorded three of the company’s best forays into the pure pop 45 market.  He also lent vocals and studio know-how to the maddest cartoon rock album of all—Monster Shindig, a bizarre horror-rock conglomeration credited to “Super-Snooper and Blabber Mouse, the Gruesomes of the Flintstones, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolf Man.”  (What, no Morocco Mole?)

HBR hit with the Five Americans’ “I See the Light” during Hutton’s tenure with the label and went on to release a hefty amount of garage, light psych and pop over the next couple of years, including “Blue Theme” by the Hogs (AKA the Chocolate Watchband).  While the majority of singles appear to have been one-off national distribution deals with bands experiencing regional chart noise, HBR long-players took the animated TV characters as a starting point and crafted dozens of mind-splitting vinyl adventures and hot session-man rock-and-roll.

Danny Hutton arrived at the start of HBR’s pop barnstorming.

Chris Davidson: How’d you get started with Hanna Barbera Records?  Was that your first experience with a record label?
 

Danny Hutton: I was working in the warehouse for Disney/Buena Vista Records.  I was basically a grunt during the day at work, but at night I hung around in the L.A. musician spots, like IHOP across from Hollywood High and Liberty Records, where I used to see Sonny & Cher, Jan & Dean, and those people.  I had put out a couple of records already.  My first was as the Chartermen on Invicta Records.  It was called “Winken, Blinken and Nod.”  This was done through Kim Fowley, who I was introduced to by Pat and Lolly Vegas.  Kim actually lived up in my attic for awhile.  I also had a single out on ALMO Records called “Home in Pasadena.”  That was released as Daring Dan Hutton.  Then I cut “Farmer’s Daughter” on Mercury as Basil Swift and the Seagrams.  One day, a guy named Larry Goldberg contacted me.  He was trying to get something happening at HBR.  He was sort of an A&R guy, a hustler, not a musician.  But he brought me into the deal as proof of his street credentials.  I was a young musician, so HBR gave me a half-hour tryout.  In that time, I wrote two songs, so they gave me a job!

CD: Did you cut the songs you wrote for the audition?

DH: Yes.  The first song was called “Nothing at All.”  I did all the vocal and instrumental parts on the record, and it was released as the Bats [HBR 445].  It was all me!  The other song was “Big Bright Eyes,” which we recorded as the B-side.  We did the whole session at Western Studios in six hours.  I wrote “Big Bright Eyes” in the studio in ten minutes.

CD: That was one of the best singles on HBR.  “Big Bright Eyes” was later a local hit for you in L.A.

DH: The version that later came out [HBR 453] under my name was the same version as the Bats, but with a different backing track.  We took the original, which was more acoustic and made it more pop.

CD: What about “Roses and Rainbows,” your other L.A. hit before “Big Bright Eyes?”  Wasn’t that the song they used for your appearance on The Flintstones?

DH: “Roses and Rainbows” was a big hit in town.  I think it was helped along when Billboard featured it on a flexi disk in one of their issues.  I really had no intention of performing live at the time.  I considered myself a studio guy.  But the label put the single out under my name [HBR447], set me up with a manager and started promoting me as a solo act.  One day they asked if I wanted to be in The Flintstones, and right after that they showed me the finished product.  I didn’t do anything.  They just used the released version of “Roses and Rainbows” in the show.  Funny story about The Flintstones.  When I met my wife, Laurie, she told me she’d seen the episode I was in and fell in love with me on TV.  She fell in love with me from the cartoon!

CD: Now, that’s a woman!  Can you tell me about the flip to “Roses and Rainbows?”

DH: “Monster Shindig” was on the back.

CD: It’s a wild song and also the title track of a great HBR album [HLP2020].  Did you do the other songs on that record—“Super Snooper” and “The Monster Jerk?”

DH: That was me.  I don’t remember the session too much, but I know I worked on that record.  I contributed a lot to the albums being made at the time.

CD: What else do you recall about your time with the label?  Did you run into any of the other acts?

DH: I was there from the very beginning, when they were just moving in the furniture.  It was about a year all together.  I always felt like it was more of an experiment than anything else, a cartoon company trying out the record business.  The Guilloteens were being worked in L.A. [three singles on the label], but I never met the Five Americans.  They never had a presence in L.A.  It was a great time while it lasted, though, and definitely helped me get a leg up in the business.

 

Selected Discography of Hanna Barbera Records
 

SINGLE         GROUP                     TITLE

HBR 445         The Bats                     Nothing At All / Big Bright Eyes

HBR 446         The Guilloteens            I Don't Believe (Call On Me) / Hey You

HBR 447         Danny Hutton   Roses and Rainbows / Monster Shindig

HBR 451         The Guilloteens            For My Own / Don't Let The Rain Get You Down

HBR 453         Danny Hutton   Big Bright Eyes/ Monster Shindig Part 2

HBR 454         Five Americans            I See the Light / The Outcast

HBR 462         Art Grayson                 Be Ever Mine / When I Get Home

HBR 468         Five Americans            EVOL Not Love / Don't Blame Me

HBR 472         Dale & Grace               I'd Rather Be Free / Let Them Talk

HBR 473         Charles Christy            In The Arms Of A Girl

HBR 476         Scat Man Crothers        Golly Zonk! (It’s Scat Man) / What's A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This?"

HBR 477         The Dimensions (Five) She's Boss / Penny

HBR 482         The Tidal Waves          Farmer John / She Left Me Alone

HBR 483         Five Americans            Good Times / The Losing Game

HBR 485         Riot Squad                  I Take It We’re Through

HBR 486         The Guilloteens            I Sit And Cry / Crying All Over My Time

HBR 488         Ron Gray                    Hold Back The Sunrise

HBR 489         Ronnie & Robyn          Cradle Of Love / Dreamin'

HBR 492         13th Floor Elevators     You’re Gonna Miss Me / Tried To Hide

HBR 494         Dynatones                   The Fife Piper / I Always Will

HBR 495         Scotty McKay   Waikiki Beach / I'm Gonna Love You

HBR 500         Positively Thirteen O'Clock     

Psychotic Reaction / 13 O' Clock Theme

HBR 501         The Tidal Waves          Big Boy Pete / I Don't Need Love

HBR 506         Dewayne & the Beldettas Hurtin’

HBR 507         W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band

Hippy Elevator Operator /Don't Lose The Girl

HBR 508         The New Breed            Want Ad Reader / One More For The Good Guys

HBR 509         The Four Gents            Soul Sister / I've Been Trying

HBR 511         The Hogs                    Blue Theme / Loose Lip Sync Ship

HBR 513         Sunny Lane                 Tell It Like It Was / Trollin'

HBR 514         The Unrelated Segments

Story Of My Life / It's Unfair

HBR 515         The Tidal Waves          Action (Speaks Louder Than Words) / Hot Stuff

HBR 516         The Timestoppers         I Need Love / Fickle Frog

HBR ? The Countdowns          Hold Back The Sunrise / The Shake

 

ALBUM          GROUP                                           TITLE

 

HLP 2020        Super-Snooper & Blabber                    Mouse Monster Shindig

HLP 2021        Flintstones                                        Goldilocks

HLP 2023        Yogi Bear & Boo Boo             Red Riding Hood & Jack and the Beanstalk

HLP 2024        Magilla Gorilla                                 Alice in Wonderland

HLP 2025        Pixie & Dixie                                    Cinderella

HLP 2026        Snagglepuss                                      Tells The Story Of The Wizard Of Oz

HLP 2027        Wilma Flintstone                               Tells The Story Of Bambi

HLP 2028        Doggie Daddy                         Pinocchio

HLP 2029        Touche Turtle & Dum Dum                 The Reluctant Dragon

HLP 2030        Johnny Quest                                     20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

HLP 2031        Top Cat                                            Robin Hood

HLP 2037        Jetsons                                             First Family on the Moon

HLP 2041        Atom Ant                                        Muscle Magic

HLP 2043        Squiddly Diddly                                Surfin’ Surfari

HLP 8503        Five Americans                                  I See The Light

HLP 8504        Renaissance Society                            Baroque ‘N Stones

HLP?              Gene Kelly                                        Jack and the Beanstalk TV Soundtrack

HLP ?             Hillbilly Bears                        Hillbilly Shindig

HLP ?             Winsome Witch                                 It's Magic

HLP ?             Flintstones & Jose Jiminez                  The Time Machine

HLP ?             Yogi Bear                                         Mad Mad Dr No No

HLP ?             The Flintstones                                 S.A.S.F.A.T.P.O.G.O.B.S.O.A.L.T.

HLP ?             Precious Pupp                         Hot Rod Granny

HLP ?             Secret Squirrel & Morocco Mole           Super Spy

HLP ?             Fred & Barney                        Mary Poppins

HLP ?             Super-Snooper & Blabber Mouse          James Bomb

HLP ?             Jetsons                                             First Family on the Moon

HLP ?             Sinbad Jr.                                         Treasure Island

HLP ?             Pebbles & Bamm Bamm                     Good Ship Lollipop

1910 Fruitgum Co. - The Best of CD (Repertoire)

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Not to be confused with the similarly-titled BMG collection for which I wrote the notes in 2001 (see below). If you're seeking the most of this splendid bubblegum band you'll need to pick up both discs, as there are six songs on the earlier release not on this mainly singles selection, among them the essential "1910 Cotton Candy Castle." But if only one Fruitgum comp is in your future, it'd be hard to compete with this 28-track behemoth. I wish BMG had been as ambitious with their own vault artists as Germany's Repertoire label! You'd have to dig through a lot of scuffy vinyl to assemble a comparable analog collection spanning the short, delicious career of this most infantile of semi-imaginary Buddah combos. Kicking off with the schoolyard earworm hits (including "Simon Says," "Indian Giver" and "1-2-3 Red Light"), the disc also spotlights the band (or its studio doppelgangers) in its jazzy, psychedelic and garagey manifestations. The b-sides are highlights (and a rare chance to enjoy band-penned compositions), like the growling bad girl raver "No Good Annie," and the Chinese psych-out "Reflections from the Looking Glass." Equally great are the retarded (in a good way) "Sticky Sticky" and the Link-Wray-in-orbit stylings of "Baby Bret." The comp closes with several scarce Italian-language tracks, from the Fruitgums' late, barely-noticed Continental phase, including the exquisitely spooky "C'e Qualcosa Che Non Picardo Piu." The booklet includes notes from John Tracy and a selection of colorful 45 sleeves, sheet music covers and oddities.

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 Read Kim Cooper's notes from The Best of the 1910 Fruitgum Company. 

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