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Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Here Come the Beagles
Catalog: HS 14561 (stereo)
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5836
Folks seem to credit (or blame) Don Kirshner for the advent of cartoon based bubblegum music, but the fact of the matter is that Kirshner-financed studio outfits like The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats were late inning entries in the genre.
With the rest of the commercial world more than eager to jump on The Beatles coattails it shouldn't have come as a surprise that someone would dream up the concept of a children's cartoon program - in this case it was an outfit known as Total Television (probably best known for creating Underdog). The series found a home on CBS which starting in September 1966 ran 36 episodes before canceling it after one season. ABC subsequently acquired broadcasting rights and kept it in reruns through September 1968.
For those of you who never saw the program, The Beagles were a pair of animated canines known as Stringer and Tubby (Stringer was the tall one playing the guitar, Tubby handled acoustic bass). Together with their manager Scotty, each episode would find the pair bungle their way through some comedic scenario which saw them learn a valuable lesson along the way which would then be encapsulated in a song.
left to right: Stringer - Tubby
Released on Columbia's budget Harmony label, 1967's "Here Come the Beagles" may have been marketed as a kids album, but offered up a great mixture of Beatlesque pop, folk-rock and even more radio-friendly bubblegum sounds. The four joint owners of TTV were credited with penning the songs - the late W. Buck Biggers, producer/sound engineerTreadwell Covington, art director Joe Harris and Chet Stovers (Biggers and Stovers were apparently responsible for writing the cartoon scripts). Material such as the title track 'Looking For the Beagles', 'Sharing Wishes' and 'I'd Join The Foreign Legion' offered up an irresistible blend of strong melodies and great harmony vocals (love to know who these guys were) which should have stormed up the charts. While virtually any of the ten tracks would have made a dandy single, personal favorites included the organ powered 'Indian Love Dance' and the rockin' 'Humpty Dumpty'. A lost classic, again I'd love to know more about this studio enterprise ...
the Beagles" track listing:
1.) Looking For The Beagles (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
'Looking For The Beagles' was a fantastic way to open the album - imagine The Everly Brothers singing something off of "Help" (complete with a great Harrison-styled lead guitar) and you'll get a feel for the sound. Columbia actually tapped the song as a single.
- 1966's 'Looking For The Beagles' b/w 'I Wanna Capture You' (Columbia catalog number 4-43789)
2.) Sharing Wishes (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
'Sharing Wishes' actually sounded a lot like the opener. That wasn't to imply it wasn't as good. It actually had a stronger hook and the cheesy organ solo was every bit as attractive as the earlier guitar solo.
3.) Indian Love Dance (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
Complete with American Indian tempo, 'Indian Love Dance' was my choice for best song. Anyone know what they were playing on the solo? Organ? A horn with some kind of effect slapped on it? Regardless, this one was so hyper it sounded like the band had been on uppers for about a month.
4.) What More Can I Do? (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: *** stars
On the heels of three wailing rockers, no matter how good it was, the album's first ballad was bound to be kind of a letdown. Shame, since under other circumstances 'What More Can I Do?' would probably have been a standout performance.
5.) I'd Join The Foreign Legion (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
Probably the album's most commercial and radio-friendly song, powered by a great piccolo (never thought I type that in a review), 'I'd Join The Foreign Legion' would have made the perfect top-40 summer song. Wonder what this would song like if The Proclaimers covered it.
A little too '50s for my tastes, the mid-tempo 'Be The Captain' was nothing more than pleasant.
2.) Humpty Dumpty (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
'Humpty Dumpty' offered up a weird mixture of children's story and hard rock moves, complete with fuzz guitar. Weird, but very likeable.
3.) Thanks To The Man On The Moon (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ** stars
'Thanks To The Man On The Moon' was an instantly forgettable ballad. The best thing on the track was the brief guitar solo.
4.) I Wanna Capture You (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ***** stars
Complete with a great garage guitar solo, 'I Wanna Capture You' found them returning to a more pop-oriented sound with far better results. Imagine prime-era Paul Revere and the Raiders as a comparison.
5.) You Satisfy (W. Buck Biggers - Treadwell Covington - Joe Harris - Chet Stover) - rating: ** stars
'You Satisfy' ended the album with another Everly Brothers styled slice of pop. Nice Farsifa organ break.
For a throwaway product this one showed considerable talent and care, making it one of the best cartoon/bubblegum releases out there. Well worth looking for and quite hard to find in good shape.
In case anyone cared, here are the LP liner notes:
"Ready? Then get set-for HERE COME THE BEAGLES! One of the most successful of the new cartoon programs for youngsters is the Saturday morning CBS Television Network series THE BEAGLES. Since its debut, this funny and thoroughly captivating half-hour animated series, in color, has proved enormously popular with small-fry audiences all over the country. In fact, the number of the show's fans has grown to include high school and even college students who enjoy the catchy, rock-and-roll songs worked into the action of each episode. Stringer and Tubby, the dog stars of the series, comprise a singing and guitar-playing team known as THE BEAGLES. Their relationship might best be described as an "Abbott and Costello" one (Tubby's the one who's always getting into trouble). And as if two beagles in pursuit of a show business career didn't already have enough problems on their paws, they have a real "dog" of a manager, named Scotty for his breed. This canny canine has a positive genius for giving THE BEAGLES' act a sincere, authentic "sound." Scotty's system goes something like this. Before a new number joins the duo's repertoire, Scotty places them in an exciting situation where they can experience what the song is all about. "Indian Love Dance", "I'd Join the Foreign Legion" and "Thanks to the Man in the Moon"-the titles alone will give you the general idea. Thus, each week the performing pooches are put through their paces, all for the sake of their rock-and-roll art! We think almost any youngster will respond with delight to THE BEAGLES' appealing songs. And, for that matter, grown-ups, too!"
Sadly all of The Beagles negatives and storyboards were apparently lost, or destroyed, but you can catch a couple of brief black and white snippets on YouTube:
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