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Bugs Bunny On Broadway

Warner Brothers Symphony Orchestra

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Album Review

In 1990, amidst a variety of Bugs Bunny-themed ventures, George Daugherty conceived and pulled off a concert presentation based on the classic Bugs/Warner Bros cartoons that took a cue from classical music, including one of the all-time acknowledged greats, "What's Opera, Doc." Daugherty's idea was simple — take the cartoons, strike new prints, set up sync tracks, and have a live 50-piece orchestra perform the tracks live on-stage. That he was allowed to carry this idea through was astonishing enough. That it worked once is breathtaking. That the Warner Bros. Orchestra managed to pull it off, on Broadway, night after night, is a tribute to the people involved, because we're talking about precision timing here — from an orchestra involved in complex scores played at breakneck speed with only a click track in one ear for tempo and no sight of the screen. The result was a massive hit both on tour and on Broadway.

Bugs Bunny on Broadway is a shortened version of that adventure into musical madness. It's a wonderful companion to and expansion on The Carl Stalling Project in that it provides fresh renditions of classic scores (with a resulting dynamic and cleanness that's wonderful). It also provides some sterling examples of Milt Franklyn, whose position as Stalling's arranger through the years made him a perfect successor as the scores to "Baton Bunny," "The High Note" (an exceptional non-Bugs outing from Chuck Jones) and "What's Opera, Doc?" prove beyond a doubt. Still, it's those demented Stalling scores that have the edge — "A Corny Concerto" (with conductor Daugherty and post-production supervisor Robb Wenner providing voices) masterfully demolishes Johann Strauss and Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky with brilliant mixes of music and effects, hewing to the originals only when needed. In "Long-Haired Hare," Stalling and company brilliantly cross numerous classical themes, songs, sound effects and dialogue — it's almost as funny on record as it is on film.

The new recordings are first-rate — clear, well-balanced and astonishingly dynamic. The production is clear and well-mixed without any digital harshness, and the analog elements (from the original cartoon tracks) are blended nicely. The tracks taken from the soundtracks of the original cartoons have been cleaned up remarkably, though their origin is certainly clear enough. In that respect, this disc manages to improve on The Carl Stalling Project, which suffered from an inability to reduce noise and improve dynamic and frequency ranges beyond a certain limit. If you like Warner Bros. animation or terrific motion picture scores, don't pass up this disc. It's the key link between Spike Jones and P.D.Q. Bach.

Customer Reviews

Bugs Bunny on Broadway

Generations of kids were introduced to the wonderful world of classical music via the most unlikely of routes:- Bugs Bunny and his band of talented, and in the 50's to 70's, black and white friends. Who can forget the musical "What's Up Doc" with Bugs running rings around friend and foe and generally making everybody around him quite uncomfortable? or even better, his on-stage exploits during The Rabbt of Seville? This album re-lives all of those classic, bugs inspired moments. Highly recommended!

Bugs Bunny On Broadway, Warner Brothers Symphony Orchestra
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