Tuesday, September 20, 2016

BETTY BOOP "Boop-Boop-Be-Doop!"

Yes, I'm alive and well! This blog ain't dead yet. I've just been spending my free time on other pursuits.

You don't need me to tell you who Betty Boop is. But there's more to this perennially popular cartoon character than her famous flapper look and squeaky voice exclaiming her "boop boop be doop" catchphrase. Women in the Victorian era had to endure not just social/political restrictions (no swimming allowed!), but physical ones as well. I recently saw a museum exhibit of the almost bondage-like garb of the day: tight corsets, thick layers of clothes and padding, long skirts that killed thousands of women by getting caught in machinery, wheels, etc. By the 1920s, the fun-loving young women known as "flappers" threw all that mess out the window and started jitterbugging to the new sounds of hot jazz, smoking and drinking and engaging in other such un-lady-like activities, all while wearing little more than short dresses. They had one of the first extensively chronicled slang-uages, even preceding the jazz hep-cat culture. I would wager to say that the flapper was the first hipster.

The Fleischer Brothers studio wouldn't introduce Betty Boop to the silver screen until the 1930s, when the Great Depression was throwing a wet blanket over the flapper culture of the Roaring 20s. But Miss Boop kept the indomitable flapper spirit going, providing a link, via appearances by novelty jazz legend Cab Calloway, to the emerging Harlem hipster era that would come to define mid-century cool culture. In the pre-Code era, this risque, adult cartoon was often built around musical sequences, and this wonderful collection presents not just songs and musical segments from the cartoons, but even a couple of songs from Helen Kane, the original squeaky-voiced singer with the New Yawk accent that inspired the Boop character. Totally essential.

A helpful Amazon reviewer notes "not all tracks are Betty herself (voiced by Mae Questel). But, many of the non-Betty tracks are from Fleischer Studios cartoons. Her “hot” theme song, sung by male vocals, began several Betty Boop cartoons... Fanny Brice singing, “I’m An Indian,” plus Maurice Chevalier’s “Hello Beautiful”  from the cartoon “Betty Boop’s Rise to Fame” (1934) wherein Betty imitates those stars on those songs. That soundtrack is also included...there are two Helen Kane songs (“That’s My Weakness Now”, “Do Something”)...Cab Calloway’s two songs from “The Old Man of the Mountain” (1933) that finish this CD... I find the Fleischer versions better than Calloway’s official studio recordings for 78 rpm. The other Calloway recordings on this CD are also from Betty Boop cartoons..."

Plus, you get Louis Armstrong, and Calloway's signature hit "Minnie The Moocher," a version of which was just featured in the "Forbidden Zone" soundtrack we posted recently. In the song, Calloway references "kicking the gong around," meaning smoking opium. Did I mention that "Betty Boop" was originally an adult's cartoon?

And I'm still waiting for Cyndi Lauper to fulfill her destiny by making a Betty Boop-type record...

 BETTY BOOP "Boop-Boop-Be-Doop!"


1Betty Boop Theme0:35
2Sweet Betty/Don't Take My Boop-Boop-A-Doop Away/The Girl In The Little Green Hat6:15
3Highlight From 'Betty Boop's Little Pal'1:28
4Helen Kane: That's My Weakness Now3:35
5Fanny Brice: I'm An Indian2:52
6Maurice Chevalier: Hello Beautiful2:19
7Stopping The Show3:15
8Arthur Jarrett: Sweet Betty Theme0:36
9Cab Calloway: Minnie The Moocher3:28
10Betty Boop's Trial5:44
11Arthur Jarrett: Sweet Betty Theme0:35
12I'll be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You (with Louis Armstrong)2:27
13Music Goes "Round And Around2:38
14St. James Infirmary Blues1:42
15Helen Kane: Do Something2:37
16Chant Of The Weed (instrumental)1:23
17Highlights From 'I Heard'4:18
18Betty Boop Theme0:47
19The Broken Record2:36
20Hell's Bells (instrumental)2:29
21Cab Calloway: The Old Man Of The Mountain3:00
22Cab Calloway: You Gotta Hi-De-Ho2:40
Betty Boop