Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too! Volume One: The 1950s

Tom and Jerry and Tex Avery. Classic names in animation for years, but this post deals with some of the music associated with 'em. The wonderful Film Music Monthly label recently issued a double-disc set of scores for some of those classic MGM cartoons, from the period when Scott Bradley was in charge of the music side (right up to when MGM closed down its cartoon unit, and before they outsourced the work - with... er... varied results). Carl Stalling is widely regarded as the king of music for theatrical cartoon shorts, and I'm not going to be the one to call him overrated - but I always kind of preferred Bradley's work. Maybe not as wild as Stalling, but his scores always seemed to be a bit more thorough-composed than the great man's, and less reliant on adapting previous works (the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies themes were from songs of the time, but Bradley's Tom and Jerry fanfare was original).

In 1993 Milan released a Tex Avery Cartoons CD that had six selections on it (technically five-and-a-half, since "The Three Little Pups" had the second half missing) and they included the sound effects and dialogue - okay, I did tape the soundtracks of several T&J cartoons that way, but that's not what you expect when you plonk down the hard-earned at the store. But this album has 25 complete scores (including the earlier album's "Little Johnny Jet," "Cellbound" and "TV Of Tomorrow"), and while some definitely work better than others - I admit knowing the cartoons they come from might give you an advantage - this is a joy from start to finish, with "Dixieland Droopy" and "Tot Watchers" (the very last one Bradley worked on, and later ripped off by John Hughes as Baby's Day Out) standouts. Too bad they couldn't have included "Bad Luck Blackie" or "The Flying Sorceress" - but then again, this is Volume One. Give the soundclips at Screen Archives a listen...

Disc One:
1. Touche, Pussy Cat! (1954, Tom and Jerry) (6:23)
2. That's My Mommy (1955, Tom and Jerry) (6:04)
3. Deputy Droopy (1955, Tex Avery) (5:33)
4. Blue Cat Blues (1956, Tom and Jerry) (7:07)
5. T.V. of Tomorrow (1953, Tex Avery) (7:28)
6. Busy Buddies (1956, Tom and Jerry) (6:00)
7. Mouse for Sale (1955, Tom and Jerry) (6:46)
8. Neapolitan Mouse (1954, Tom and Jerry) (7:09)
9. Dixieland Droopy (1954, Tex Avery) (7:29)
10. Give and Tyke (1957, Spike and Tyke) (6:10)
11. Happy Go Ducky (1958, Tom and Jerry) (5:55)
12. Little Johnny Jet (1952, Tex Avery) (7:02)

Disc Two:
1. Field and Scream (1955, Tex Avery) (5:49)
2. Pecos Pest (1955, Tom and Jerry) (6:03)
3. Billy Boy (1954, Tex Avery) (5:49)
4. Downbeat Bear (1956, Tom and Jerry) (5:36)
5. Pet Peeve (1954, Tom and Jerry) (5:42)
6. Tom and Cherie (1955, Tom and Jerry) (6:19)
7. Cellbound (1955, Tex Avery) (5:16)
8. Tom's Photo Finish (1957, Tom and Jerry) (6:04)
9. Downhearted Duckling (1954, Tom and Jerry) (6:26)
10. Scat Cats (1957, Spike and Tyke) (6:09)
11. Homesteader Droopy (1954, Tex Avery) (6:56)
12. Barbeque Brawl (1956, Tom and Jerry) (6:24)
13. Tot Watchers (1958, Tom and Jerry) (6:08)