Today, another report on my quest to collect as many recordings as possible made by the great Thurl Ravenscroft. This serves as an addition to the Thurl Ravenscroft Festival (part of the 365 days project), and a 2008 update, as well as Brian Jacob's wonderful All Things Thurl website.
Not so long ago, I actually began to wonder if maybe I'd gotten close to finding all the Thurl there was to find, when, in back to back searches - days apart - I came across two 45's, both by bandleader Paul Weston, and each containing one song featuring lead vocals by our man Thurl. First up is a version of the popular mid-'50's song "Bimbo", then a song titled "Low in the Lehigh Valley":
As the LP came into prominence early in the 1950's, a certain subset of bandleaders/composers/arrangers saw it as an opportunity to create long-form productions especially for the album market. This led to some interesting products, including two album-length cantatas in which Thurl took part. In both cases, his voice can be picked out in the various choral sections here and there, but the focus here is on the fact that, in each case, he was given a short solo section to perform.
For David Rose, he provided the voice of an old timer during a brief section on the various residents of the City by the Bay, on the album "San Francisco: My Enchanted City":
From 1953 comes a downright peculiar album by Gordon Jenkins. Seeking to follow-up on and expand upon the success of his hugely popular "Manhattan Tower", Jenkins developed "Seven Dreams", in which we follow a man (portrayed by Thurl's partner in the vocal quarter "The Mellomen", Bill Lee), as he describes and relives the title set of dreams. For the segment involving Thurl, he's on a train, encountering a series of scenes and people, including this salesman:
Incidentally, as Dr. Demento, among others, have pointed out, this same album - in fact this same dream - contains the original performance of a blues number, "Crescent City Blues", sung by Beverly Mahr (and written by Jenkins) which would later be reworked by Johnny Cash into "Folsom Prison Blues". This doesn't involve Thurl, but will probably be interesting to more than a few readers, so here is that song:
Even further out of left field, here's a song I found a mentioned in a copy of a 1950's Billboard Magazine (it was listed among the "other singles received this week", I believe), but never actually expected to hear. Brian Jacobs, operator of the aforementioned "All Things Thurl" was nice enough to send me a low-fi copy of one of the songs on the single, "Dr. Geek":
I still hope to someday hear the flip side of that one, "I'll Pay As I Go", but Brian only has a copy of the "Dr. Geek" side of the single.
Following up on my inclusion of a few tracks from Thurl's record for the blind reading of the entire book of Psalms, here is another Psalm. I'm sure this chapter is very well known to those with a greater knowledge of the Bible than I have, but for me, hearing its words was nothing short of astonishing. Here is Psalm 109:
I've mostly steered away from Thurl's work for Disney, since much of it seems so readily available, but here's an EP telling the story of Paul Bunyan, one which I haven't come across in any subsequent release. There is a 1950's Disney short film, telling the story of Paul Bunyan, and perhaps this is similar to the contents of that animated film (which I haven't seen). This is not the same version of the Paul Bunyan story that I included in a previous Thurl entry - that one was on Globe Records:
The following track is about as far out of season as possible, and Thurl only plays a cameo role, but it's worth hearing for his suitably authoritative tone, in Mario Lanza's rendition of "We Three Kings of Orient Are":
Finally, a few unusual recordings by Thurl's group, The Mellomen. While neither of these tracks feature Thurl singing solo (and indeed, he can be hard to pick out), they are interesting enough in and of themselves to make them worth sharing. First a vocal rendition of The Marseillaise:
And finally, a 78 which I presume to have been a promotional item for Buick, given that the flip side contains the same song, performed by Gordon MacRae and Gisele MacKenzie, "My Buick, My Love and I":
I hope you've enjoyed this trip through Thurldom, and I promise to offer up more Ravenscrofty wonders, if and when I come across them.