Our Dinosaur Friends
Art Barduhn Our Dinosaur Friends - for the Early Years LP (ARA, 1978)
This one is an absolute gem. I found this at a thrift store with it's companion volume, The Intermediate Years. It was, as you will hear, two bucks well spent and further proof that for every 100 shitty children's record out there, there is an absolute gem. As I've written before, what makes a great children's record is music that does not
"talk" down to kids, music that treats them as the creative, spontaneous, intelligent beings we seek to destroy. Our Dinosaur Friends is just that.
"A dinosaur records? Eh how hard is that?" you ask. Sure , dinosaurs are an easy sell to young'un, perhaps easier than firemen and candy. Few kids aren't fascinated with our reptilian cousins or second cousins or wherever they fall in this animal soup. So anyone can make a good dinosaur record. No only is that not so, it means you've never heard this one. I've listened to many a kid's record and the only one that hits it like this is Stark Reality's record of Hoagy Carmichael songs (reissued as Stark Reality Now on Stones Throw). (To be fair, Stark Reality stands alone. Our Dinosaur Friends is great, but as good as it is, it pales next to Now.) Like Stark Reality, Art Barduhn has come up with some songs that sound more avant garde than they do children's. Our Dinosaur Years sounds more like Tom Waits' Frank's Wild Years period (done five years earlier) or Moondog (created decades earlier) than Raffi. Every time I listen to this I am taken aback over how much freedom the children's music genre gives musicians.
Art Barduhn started his music career playing vibes on the Seattle TV show Boreson & Barduhn in the 1940s. By the Fifties he was in Los Angeles recording polkas and playing jazz. He composed and arranged for TV, taught voice and music lessons, and created kids music. Here he is joined by Eric Miller and Pam Johnson (pictured below). As of 2005, Art was still alive and playing music in Palm Springs, fronting a Beach Boys=styled band called The Arthur Barduhn Trio.
Oh yeah, one of the really great things about this record is that the first side is vocals and music. The second is the music sans vocals. When you hear the cuts below, you will know what a treat that is. Happy hunting!
Because, you know, it's utterly imperative that every child be able to identify at least ten different dinosaurs and spout at least a half dozen facts about each one!
Although his failing eyesight keeps him from playing the vibes, Arts piano chops are still strong.
He and my father (engineer and trombonist who died last August) were best pals.
Mahalo for your time.
A hui hou,
I am an early childhood educator and I have been looking for the record for the longest time. Can anyone please share the record? My children will love to song the songs!!!!
["I don't like these. The problem with children's literature and children's music is not just that they are sometimes pandering but that they are also sometimes pointlessly didactic. These songs don't strike me as having been created in order to celbrate the wonder of dinosaurs so much as to inundate children with a bunch of information."]
way to disinfect the fun out of it. these songs were rad. kids can handle 10 dinosaur names. and songs. and associated hand motions. and dinosaur dance parties.
I utterly disagree with Tim Ellison as someone who grew up on this record and regularly still sings these songs, especially when I am having a debate about whether stegosaurus had spikes on his tail (which happened the other day with my little brother) and I simply sang the song and boom! there it was. These are fantastic, catchy, wonderful funny songs. And it's lovely when a child is interested and can recite all sorts of dinosaurs bec. they enjoy it. They can get into the technical abstract understanding of it later when they are 10+ and have advanced abstract thinking/reasoning abilities.
now everyone go check out the newest best dinorsaurs: myspace.com/bossasaurus or bossasaurus.com
phillipdrummond at gmail.com
This production was very professionally produced by Art Barduhn who also recorded a number of other projects in my studio. He brought in "chart musicians" who had the skill to sit down in front of some sheet music they never saw before and play it perfectly, instantly. I recorded some sessions with musicians who had been with Elvis Presley and it may have been Art who brought those musicians in as well although I'm not crystal on that. Art himself was a great guy to work with and played vibes, piano, trumpet, and other instruments.
Art wrote and arranged the music although I don't know how much of the lyrics he wrote which in any case would have been in collaboration with the educator involved, at least as far as double-checking them were concerned.
So, yes, you're talking about quality here because this was before computers and before synthesized music was common, the musicians were the real deal and highly skilled professionals.
My LPs are in storage at present and I just downloaded an mp3 of an album side that someone had posted from website "http://www.vgg.com/VGGBlog/2007/01/mp3_monday_dinosaurs.html" and was disappointed to find that it was in mono and quite possibly only containing the left or right side of the original stereo and some elements are partly or completely missing. Probably unintentional with a bad connection from the turntable being used. We mixed the original recording in stereo. I’m almost positive that the stereo mixdown tape was used to make stereo LPs. It would have made no sense to make the records mono but my copies have been in storage for many years so I can’t double-check…this was over 30 years ago remember. I wasn’t in charge of the record manufacturing on this particular project.
At one point we had the music recorded and I was sitting at the console with Art Barduhn and Denny Hardesty while Wayne Parker was in the studio wearing headphones and standing before his mic overdubbing his vocals to the multitrack playback of the music. When singing the T-Rex song, part of the lyrics he was supposed to sing were "Mean and cruel was Tyrannosaurs Rex, caught his victims by their necks." Well, on one take he flubbed it and sang "Mean and cruel was Tyrannosaurs Nex..." and while he was shaking his head and saying "darn" I didn't miss a beat and, while the music was still running, I hit the talkback switch on the console and sang the rest of the phrase into the talkback mic "...caught his victims by their Rex..." Well, Art Bardhun and Denny Hardesty sitting on either side of me practically fell off their chairs.
Yeah, we had great fun recording these albums.
I was just reading a post by Charlene Dyer who said she wrote the "Intermediate Years" album with Art Barduhn (Hi, Charlene!). I didn't meet everyone associated with this production before it was ready for the recording studio. I remember I met the teacher Pam Johnson and I don't know all the specifics of her contribution but I did record her vocals on some tracks along with student Eric Miller, and a picture of them appears on the album.
I haven’t had contact with Art since the early 1980s at the latest but, in any event… “Hi, Art! It was great working with a pro like you!”
I see there are other websites posting letters for these dinosaur albums and I think I'll probably post this letter on some of these others as well so don't be surprised if you come across this letter more than once.
Great reading all your letters!
John M. Peters