Now Reading
Firehouse 5 and the Cinderella Shock –

Firehouse 5 and the Cinderella Shock –

2024-02-14 21:55:41

My purpose was to protect some never-before-heard recordings of an unimaginable Dixieland jazz band made up of principally Disney staff, the Firehouse 5 Plus Two.

However alongside the best way, I by chance found an unimaginable misplaced tune that was minimize from Walt Disney’s Cinderella.

And also you’re about to listen to it too. Let’s go.

picture by way of D23

Right here’s the backstory. Within the early 1940’s, a bunch of proficient of us within the highly effective orbit of legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball, which naturally included loads of of us from the Disney animation and sound departments, found that they shared a typical love of jazz.

Throughout World Battle II, they began a studio band known as the Huggajeedy Eight, and principally performed as a part of Disney “camp exhibits” — vaudeville-style packages placed on by studio personnel for troopers at native navy bases. Then, round 1945, Ward met a neighborhood trumpeter, Johnny Lucas, and collectively they began the San Gabriel Valley Blueblowers, enjoying regularly round LA.

With that basis, right here’s how Ward likes to tells it:

“A few of us used to collect in my workplace at lunchtime to take heed to my data of jazz legends. We determined to essentially get into the spirit of the music by enjoying together with the data. Then at some point the phonograph broke down proper in the midst of ‘Royal Backyard Blues’. Undaunted, we stored proper on enjoying and located to our amazement that we sounded fairly good all by ourselves!”

—Ward Kimball, legendary animator (and practice fanatic)

The group included also-legendary animator Frank Thomas on piano, assistant director Danny Alguire on cornet, designer and Imagineer Harper Goff on banjo, and extra. Curiously, of us like Goff and Alguire have been band members first, and have been later employed at Disney, generally by way of the intervention of Ward (like Alguire) and generally on their very own deserves (like Goff).

These lunchtime listening classes turned lunchtime jam classes. Quickly, they have been being requested to play events and dances. And earlier than you already know it, the Firehouse 5 Plus Two was born.

“When the band was requested by the native Horseless Carriage Membership to play for its auto tour to San Diego, I shortly discovered and restored a 1914 fireplace truck and with the group now uniformed as firemen, we logically modified our title to the Firehouse 5 Plus Two.”

—Ward Kimball

Why the Plus Two? Easy. “The ‘Plus Two’ was added in order that individuals who employed us would know that they have been getting seven musicians!” Duh.

Because the band’s reputation grew, their day jobs remained.

“Walt at all times preferred music and he was very happy with us. He couldn’t recover from the truth that a few of the guys who labored for him as animators and artists have been abruptly the toast of the music world.”

—Ward Kimball

It was inevitable, then, that the Firehouse 5 Plus Two would additionally work their approach into the Disney canon. The band made an iconic look within the (very unusual, very Charlie McCarthy-heavy) Alice In Wonderland-promoting tv particular One Hour in Wonderland (1950).

picture by way of @wardkimball

They appeared in an episode of the Mickey Mouse Membership:

The band additionally makes an animated, hilariously-caricatured cameo within the Goofy brief The right way to Dance (1953):

The Firehouse 5 Plus Two turned, if you happen to’ll forgive me, white sizzling. Ward summarizes:

“We made films at MGM and Common Studios, performed for Bing Crosby’s golf tournaments and radio exhibits, appeared on nationwide tv with such diversified luminaries because the Disney Mouseketeers, Milton Berle, Ed Wynn, and Lawrence Welk, culminating with over 15 years of summer season appearances on the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland. By the point we determined to retire the band in 1971, we had managed to file 12 albums which have offered worldwide. All this in our spare time.”

—Ward Kimball

What an unimaginable success for a facet undertaking.

Ultimately, Ward — and the Firehouse 5 Plus Two — fell out of favor with Walt. Ward had a string of unlucky conflicts, together with a promotional advert for “Babes in Toyland” that put Ward entrance and middle as director and angered Walt a lot he had him faraway from the image solely, and the band received caught up within the fray.

“I bear in mind [Walt] was having a picnic on the Golden Oak Ranch, [but] I needed to depart at 2 o’clock and drive to San Diego to play on the Resort Coronado with the band. So I went over and requested them if I might have a plate of meals earlier.

Walt walks up, whereas I’m sitting all on my own, with Betty [Kimball’s wife], and I’m consuming, and he says to Betty, ‘Don’t you feed him at dwelling?’ I mentioned, ‘Gee, Walt, I’ve to go and play a job in San Diego.’ He made some sarcastic comment: ‘Don’t we pay you adequate?’ You see, this fed the best way he was feeling. Walt couldn’t perceive why I would go away a Disney celebration that he deliberate, desert it at 3 within the afternoon, and go to San Diego and play with the band.

He was so happy with that band for years. When this stuff all received added up, the band received thrown within the hopper, too.”

—Ward Kimball, talking to Michael Barrier

Nonetheless, even at this time, the Firehouse 5 Plus Two stays a culturally essential a part of Disney. Possibly you noticed this acquainted emblem in The Princess and the Frog (2009)?

Even higher, this nice homage simply made it into the actual world — at Tiana’s Palace at Disneyland, in 2023.

There’s one different purpose I’m fascinated by this band.

Firehouse 5 Plus Two completely captures a kind-of longing and nostalgia for a one thing I want I might’ve skilled: a really particular, early, artistic, just-a-group-of-friends time on the Walt Disney Firm. Simply suppose: no one received fired for this facet undertaking. This was Ward’s concept with no studio affiliation or funding. He didn’t must CC:’d and BCC: this dream throughout big groups of PR of us or attorneys. They practiced at lunch — throughout work hours. They have been even allowed to promote their albums on a non-Disney music label. And but, Walt even appreciated and leveraged the group to his profit. A whole lot of this was merely the ability of Ward, however nonetheless, might this occur at this time? It’s perhaps not not possible, however it feels unlikely.

Hey… wait a second! That was a number of blabbering.

Do you wish to hear what the Firehouse 5 appears like?!

Listed here are a handful of Firehouse 5 albums in your favourite streaming providers! Click on on any cowl to get pleasure from. (There’s more, however these ones can be found in every single place.)

(Additionally, a Cabel reminder to at all times purchase the music you wish to preserve ceaselessly — these albums can, and can, disappear from streaming providers in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later.)

Okay, you’re caught up. That’s the Firehouse 5 Plus Two.

Let’s simply say… it caught my eye instantly.

The public sale itemizing learn:

Lot #: 452

Description: (ca. 1947) Assortment of uncommon, distinctive reside grasp recordings by The Firehouse 5 on (6) authentic 78rpm data. These early direct-to-78 recordings seize the group as their swinging Dixieland sound started to coalesce.

Every file contains a number of tracks, and retains a Walt Disney Productions label hand written (presumably by Kimball) with cheeky titles. An unimaginable, one-of-a-kind relic of underground Disney historical past.

Mysterious acetate wafers which may comprise one-of-a-kind, never-heard moments from this unimaginable band?!

I needed to get and/or hear these.

So, I bid — and $1,000 later (as soon as once more, welcome to the world’s least worthwhile weblog), a package deal confirmed up.

I opened this classic “His Grasp’s Voice” file folio as rigorously as doable…

…and once I took a take a look at that first label…

…I knew I used to be in for one thing particular.

It started to sink in that what was in entrance of me was actually one-of-a-kind — and contained recordings that, probably, no one has heard in 70 years.

After which I informed myself:

“Cabel you actually can’t screw this up.”

I wanted a technique to get these archived. Of us, I wasn’t about to slap them on an City Outfitters USB Turntable.

That’s the place Bryce Roe is available in.

I emailed the Northeast Document Conservation Center, which I discovered by way of some Googling (“previous data secure digitize no destroy essential”, in all probability). They’re a non-profit conservation and preservation middle in Andover, MA, that gives guide, paper, {photograph}, and audio conservation, digital imaging, and extra. Bryce replied:

“We’d be delighted to work with you to protect your precious recordings. These look like lacquer instantaneous discs, and they’re fairly fragile in comparison with vinyl — you have been smart to be cautious about dealing with and playback! We provide conventional stylus playback reformatting for discs which can be in secure situation, and we additionally supply a ‘non-touch’, optical scanning methodology utilizing IRENE for discs which can be too broken to be performed by way of a contact methodology or as a safer different for playable discs.”

—Bryce Roe, NEDCC

Okay, yeah, NEDCC appeared like lead. So after spending much more cash on this put up (somebody who is sweet on the economic system please assist me price range this. my weblog is dying), I put the data safely within the mail.

If you wish to get technical — and I do! — Karl Fleck, who did the archiving work, shared with me some course of notes:

“There are a number of shifting elements with regards to transferring audio from a disc. Lots of these elements must cope with the dearth of standardization within the traits of disc recording. So earlier than I started the precise transfers, I ran a pair exams. First, I performed the disc and captured some audio with completely different sized styli as a result of the groove dimensions on discs weren’t standardized on the time and diversified relying on the unique disc chopping machine. Then, I in contrast the check audio and listened for which stylus produced the cleanest audio, or, the audio with the least quantity of noise and distortion. One other technical setting was the playback equalization – AKA EQ. This setting determines the general frequency stability of the audio content material. Much like the stylus choice, I listened to many EQ settings and decided which one was most applicable for the time interval and which had probably the most pure frequency stability.”

—Karl Fleck, NEDCC

Ultimately, the work was completed, and a few digital information arrived at my doorstep.

I took a deep breath, placed on my headphones, and hit play.

Let’s pay attention to those data collectively!

However earlier than we begin, I wish to observe that I spoke with some fantastic individuals who helped me right here. Theodore Thomas is a proficient filmmaker — and in addition the son of Frank Thomas, Disney animator and Firehouse 5 pianist. Don Hahn is a Disney legend, historian, and producer (Magnificence and the Beast, Lion King, Atlantis, and so forth.) Stacia Martin is an encyclopedic supply of Disney information, an equally unimaginable artist (simply watch her draw Figment — while talking!!), a 40+ yr Disney worker and true delight.

So, right here we go:

1. Sure Sir! That’s M’Child

Go on, hit play!

The very first thing I’ve to say, in fact, is that Ward Kimball couldn’t assist himself — on this label, he’s quickly renamed the band to the “Outhouse Oaters”. (In fashionable phrases, I believe this loosely interprets to “Crappy Western”.)

This tune is a Firehouse 5 basic, however what’s fascinating is that it’s surprisingly sluggish for them — I believe what’s taking place right here is that we get to be within the room as they’re discovering their footing and studying the tune, enjoying it sluggish to get it beneath their belt.

Additionally, that is clearly recorded with a single microphone — this isn’t knowledgeable combined file. This was nearly definitely a lunch-time, skunkworks deal.

2. Shake That Factor

First, omg, “Outhouse Oaters” was just the start. Now, the band’s short-term title is the “Farthouse Fuckheads”!!

Each time I take a look at that label, I snort. Each time.

(It’s additionally humorous, as a result of we don’t actually think about of us within the ‘good previous days’ utilizing this sort of language, can we? Possibly as a result of it’s not in that media. However, oh, they did.)

Second, this disc is especially particular to me — I believe this tune isn’t obtainable on any Firehouse 5 file! It was usually simply a part of their reside set. Now it’s saved!

I’m additionally delighted by the strikethrough on “Walt Disney Productions” (“no copyright meant”) and the “throw away when completed”. Whoever didn’t try this — thanks.

3. All people Loves My Child (Heat-up)

This mysteriously-labelled disc accommodates a really brief snippet of the band getting up to the mark on All people Loves My Child. There’s a for much longer model a couple of discs down.

4. Has Anyone Seen My Gal?

Good lord. Simply once I thought we’d reached the alternate-name comedy peak, right here come the “Jackoff Jackrabbits”!!

This recording is beginning to really feel a bit of bit extra just like the tempo of a Firehouse 5 tune.

Additionally, originally there’s a bit of little bit of dialog, that to me appears like “5 foot two with a Charleston gimme, hey Johnny, what’s the beat?” After you can hear trumpet-player Johnny Lucas exclaim “A-wat-dat!” and stomp out a six-count for tempo. It’s like being there.

5. Brass Bell (Frank’s Rag)

Extra nice chatter up prime: “That is known as Frank’s Rag, that title’ll must do for now. Frank wrote it himself, proper Frank?” I like this, as a result of it captures a short second proper earlier than the tune was formally often known as “Brass Bell”, one other Firehouse 5 basic, because it was labelled.

Once more, it feels so dang sluggish! However I assume that’s what apply is all about?

The tune ends with a incredible Ward “How do ya prefer it?!”

6. All people Loves My Child

No humorous band title right here, only a very nice recording of an awesome tune with a enjoyable Frank piano solo within the center.

7. Silver Threads Amongst The Clinkers Gold

It was inevitable. Our beloved band has one other new, short-term title, by way of Ward Kimball: the “Whorehouse 5”.

(And as soon as once more I thank whoever ignored the “Please Destroy” directions written on the disc.)

That is one other tune I don’t consider was ever launched on a Firehouse 5 album! And I like the coin-operated participant piano gag originally — it’s all performed so straight till it begins to swing half-way by way of!

The top of the tune, although, is a deal with. (Skip to three:45). Should you pay attention intently, there’s nice real-life band dialogue that takes place. My finest transcription:

“What’s the thought, Ed?”

“Yeah, let’s hear this concept!” (That’s Ward speaking to Ed Penner, Tuba participant.)

“Properly, so you already know [unknown venue] has a kitty on the entrance?”

(Ted Thomas jogs my memory a kitty was a container — a barrel, a basket, a jar — to gather cash and suggestions for the band.)


“Let’s make a kitty barrel and let’s rig it up in order that if anyone [puts money in?], a firecracker goes off, a smoke bomb, bells ring, lights, I imply actually…”

“I suppose I’m going to must make it?” (Ward, in fact.)

“, Lucas hates kitties!”

“ I made [a barrel] for a kitty up there in Pasadena, and nobody put something in it…”

(Ward’s referring to one of many earliest jobs the Firehosue 5 ever had as a band in Pasadena.)

“However you already know on the Cavern…”

(Ted additionally notes that the Cavern could be the Beverly Cavern, a membership on Beverly close to Normandie that was a mainstay of the New Orleans revival, and is now a Karaoke joint. Child Ory, Bunk Johnson, George Lewis, and the Firehouse 5 all performed there. The band ended up enjoying there repeatedly by way of the Fifties.)

“…that they had one the place lights would go off, electrical bell would ring, and actually…”

“Give ’em a present!!”

Rigging up a donation jar to shoot off fireworks and ring bells is an ideal distillation of the enjoyable vibes at play.

I’m wondering in the event that they ever did it.

Our Firehouse 5 Rehearsals have now ended. I hope you loved listening to that as a lot as I did!

Ted Thomas gave me his ideas:

“These recordings of the proto-FH5 are positively rehearsal discs, doubtless completed in 1948, because the band was beginning to gel into knowledgeable unit. On the finish of ‘Silver Threads Among the many Gold’ there may be point out of a gig in Pasadena, the place they performed lots of their early jobs, even earlier than they have been formally the FH5. Additionally, the rendition of ‘Brass Bell’ has the flavour of it being pretty new to the band, and Frank wrote it after they performed a home celebration in Beverly Hills early on. He initially titled it ‘Lullaby for Penny’, named for actress Penny Singleton who lived subsequent door to the celebration and known as the host repeatedly complaining that the band was too loud for her to sleep.”

And Don Hahn added:

“My hunch is that these have been recorded on B Stage. It was the dialogue stage [at Walt Disney Productions] and though they might do a number of mics, it could be most frequently only one mic arrange for dialogue. My guess is that they did this at lunch, which was a standard time for them to play they usually simply used the mono mic arrange that was widespread on B Stage. I communicate from whole ignorance, although — my two cents, price each penny!” 

All of it provides up.

They’d meet up at lunch (or at any time when), sneak into B Stage, setup a microphone, and play their hearts out.

I’m unsure if you happen to listened to all of these tracks to the top (it’s okay if you happen to didn’t), however did you discover something?

Let’s pay attention intently to the very finish of Shake That Factor:

You hear somebody… calling some… chickens, proper?

That’s not simply my creativeness?

Stacia Martin thought it sounded identical to Ilene Woods, a.okay.a. Cinderella. Bear in mind this scene?

Wouldn’t these calls match completely right here? Is it doable this was an earlier concept they tried?


And what concerning the very finish of All people Loves My Child?

That’s proper — after the band performs, there’s a bit of snippet of Cinderella herself, buzzing “A Dream Is A Want Your Coronary heart Makes”! Bear in mind this scene?

What the heck is happening right here?

What are these random bits and items of Disney sound historical past doing at these finish of those Firehouse 5 tracks?

See Also

And that’s once I realized…

The Firehouse 5 weren’t utilizing recent, clean acetates to file their apply. That’d be a waste of firm assets! Ward was merely recycling acetates mendacity round his workplace, something with a bit of little bit of clean area.

What was on these discs earlier than they recorded on them?!

Let’s begin with a vinyl facet labeled, merely, “Samba”.

8. Blame It On the Samba (Novachord Exams)

Okay, that is wild and wonderful! What’s it?!

Stacia Martin figured this one out instantly — it appears like an alternate concept for a sequence in the midst of “Blame It On The Samba”, part of Melody Time (1948).

Hear for your self! It’s completely the identical Samba beat within the background, proper?

I’m actually having fun with imagining what they might’ve animated to those weird and humorous keyboard strains.

And the label notes “Novachord”, which implies a few of these bizarre notes have been performed utilizing the world’s first polyphonic synthesizer! (1939… 72-voice polyphony… 163 vacuum tubes and 1,000 capacitors!)

What a deal with to get to listen to this snippet of misplaced historical past.

9. Two! Three! 4!

This mysterious, unlabelled disc actually shocked me.

I like listening in on any recording session.

However what was this unusual count-off for?

Who have been these folks?

Stacia Martin — who, as soon as once more, is the best — cracked this one instantly. It is a count-off used within the Mickey brief Nifty Nineties (1941) — and that’s Ward Kimball himself counting, together with animator Fred Moore!

I like listening to them get increasingly more intense as they go.

(And I questioned, is that this the one surviving recording of a Ward Kimball voice session?)

10. The Apple Music (Demo)

I warn you upfront: when you take heed to this observe, there isn’t any coming again. It’s in your head ceaselessly. Take pleasure in.

The label says every thing, actually: this vinyl flip-side contained a captivating demo recording of The Apple Music, used within the Johnny Appleseed sequence in Melody Time (1948). That’s Dennis Day singing each elements!

I actually admire the straightforward piano accompaniment. It’s actually shockingly near the completed product:

The widespread thread to all of those discs is Ward Kimball. We’re fairly assured that’s Ward’s handwriting (and completely positive that’s his humorousness). He animated on Blame It On The Samba. He was a voice in Nifty Nineties. He labored on Johnny Appleseed.

He additionally designed Gus & Jaq, the mice, in Cinderella.

After I flipped over my final Firehouse 5 rehearsal observe, I got here throughout probably the most fascinating label of all.

It was crossed out a number of occasions in pencil. However in contrast to the entire different discs, the label was typewritten, so it felt considerably extra essential.

“Work Fantasy”, it learn.

Dated 5/2/49.

And it was 5 minutes of one thing really particular.

11. Work Fantasy (A Misplaced Cinderella Demo)

Cinderella had an extended and sophisticated improvement, and one of many hardest sequences for the crew to crack was known as the “Work Fantasy” sequence. The essential concept: proper after the stepmother tells Cindy that she will be able to go to the ball — however provided that she finishes her chores — Cinderella fantasizes about cloning herself. Having a military of Cinderellas could be the one approach she might ever really end the duty.

Whereas many makes an attempt have been made, the sequence by no means made it into the movie. And as I listened to this disc, it hit me.

On this acetate was a long-lost, never-released try and make the Cinderella “Work Fantasy” sequence work!!

And to suppose it was simply hiding there on the opposite facet of the Firehouse 5 enjoying “Brass Bell”!

Go on, hit play. And as you pay attention, take a second to let it sink in that you simply’re one of many first folks to listen to this music in practically 75 years.

One model of this sequence was absolutely storyboarded, so please take into account this imagery as you pay attention!

The entire observe is unimaginable.

The mice dialog originally. The attractive “how comfortable I might be…” transition melody. The marching piano inserts from “Ollie” — that’s Oliver Wallace, who did the music. The hilarity of Cinderella primarily bossing herself round. And her exasperation after waking up.

However the actual deal with for me was three minutes in: Ilene Woods as Cinderella singing an unimaginable, advanced three-part concord with herself. Amazingly, this was additionally one of many first makes use of of overdubbing in movie.

So, what occurred to this “Work Fantasy” sequence?

Stacia Martin advised I learn the guide “Disney Legend Wilfred Jackson” by Ross Care, which features a day-by-day diary of his work at Disney, together with on Cinderella.

Utilizing it, we will piece collectively a fairly good timeline:

  • March 1st – Wilfred wrote “Assembly with Walt and Ollie on Work Fantasy”, because it was deep in improvement.
  • March twenty second – “Storyboards for Work Fantasy”.
  • April twenty eighth – “Capturing reside motion on Work Fantasy”.
  • Might 2nd – This recording was made.
  • Might tenth – One week later, an enormous assembly with Walt: “operating complete image and discussing adjustments.”
  • Might twentieth – “Recording mice singing Work Music”

Did you discover what occurred?

No matter occurred in that Might tenth assembly with Walt, the tune had modified dramatically — it was shortly rerecorded, was now sung by the mice, and have become what you in all probability know as “Cinderelly, Cinderelly”. The “fantasy” was gone.

And, fortunate us: we received to listen to one step on that journey.

The remaining is historical past.

(And a few bonus full-circle trivia: the voice of Gus and Jaq, the mice, was James MacDonald, who performed drums within the Firehouse 5 Plus Two. And one final fascinating footnote: this “misplaced tune” was really rewritten, with out the fantasy/cloning half, then launched as promotional file for the film, sung by a super-jazzy Ilene Woods. You can hear it on YouTube.)

In order that’s my little musical journey.

We simply received to listen to the Firehouse 5 discover their footing. We received to listen to some demos and recording classes from Disney historical past. And we received to listen to a tune from Cinderella we’ve by no means heard earlier than.

And don’t fear, it’s all preserved: I’ve put this whole set of data up on the Internet Archive. (.zip)

I had a number of proficient assist with this one. Beginning with former-Imagineer Tom Morris, who launched me to Stacia Martin, who launched me to Don Hahn and Ted Thomas. World-class composer Chris Willis who helped me verify Cinderella was singing three-part concord. Bryce Roe, Karl Fleck, and NEDCC for his or her disc preservation. And eventually, Amid Amidi for his wonderful Ward Kimball information. (His upcoming guide goes to be vital.)

Additional particular thanks for LostTurntable for cleansing up audio gunge within the recordings, and my previous pal Louie Mantia for the gorgeous cleaned-up label art work.

I’m extraordinarily comfortable to have saved these fantastic little snippets of Disney audio historical past. Aspect quests like this give me infinite power and make my life really feel worthwhile.

I hope you loved listening as a lot as I did.


PS: the Apple Music will by no means depart your head

PPS: if you happen to actually, really preferred this put up, I’ve arrange a Stripe so you possibly can ship me some thanks-bucks (thucks®) and fund this sort of insanity, however it’s a really optionally available check.

Source Link

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2022 Blinking Robots.
WordPress by Doejo

Scroll To Top