Saturday, November 28, 2009

WOCK On Vinyl: Banana Splits - We're the Banana Splits (1968)

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Before things get too serious at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song at the end of each month, that could be considered to be either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.
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This WOCK posting comes under the 'crazy' category. As a young teenager, I have fond memories of tuning in to the ABC on a Sunday night to watch another one of my favourite shows "The Banana Splits Show". The show ran for an hour and featured both animated and live-action segments, in particular a satirical action thriller called 'Danger Island' which always left you hanging on the edge of your seat, and always teasing you into watching next weeks episode !
To a pre-teen generation for whom the concept of "free love" equalled unlimited hugs from mom and the notion of "getting high" meant nothing more than a breakfast cereal-induced sugar coma, the Banana Splits marked the apotheosis of such staples of late 1960s culture as psychedelia, pop art and, of course, music. Like the Archies and Josie & the Pussycats, the band was essentially nothing more than a marketing front for a collective of faceless studio musicians; unlike their peers, however, in their own unique way the Banana Splits represented the acid culture's subtle encroachment into mainstream children's entertainment.
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Essentially, the Banana Splits concept was like the Monkees once removed; clearly modeled on the exuberance and slapstick comedy of the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, the show also borrowed heavily from the bright, psychedelic image the Fab Four sported on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Like both the Beatles and the Monkees, the Splits were a four-piece pop band, and like the Monkees (and the Beatles in Help!), they even lived together in the same mod digs. Unlike their human predecessors, however, the Banana Splits were bizarre, anthropomorphic animals: rhythm guitarist Drooper was a lion, lead guitarist Fleegle was a dog (my favourite character by the way), keyboardist Snorky was an elephant, and drummer Bingo was a monkey.

For all its good-natured, well-produced late-'60s pop, the Banana Splits LP is sweet and happy in one dose, like having a banana split for appetizer, lunch, and dessert. Still, those songs do include the well-remembered hit "The Tra La La Song," plus some surprisingly raving garage- soul-pop with "I'm Gonna Find a Cave" and the Wilson Pickett-like "Doin' the Banana." The more bubblegummy happy-go-lucky numbers and ballads are harder to bear, but obviously the session cats playing on these tried harder than they had to, putting sitar on the lightly psychedelic "In New Orleans" and Baroque harpsichord on the uncharacteristically moody "Wait Til Tomorrow." Note that a recent CD re-release of this LP also adds eight non-LP bonus tracks, including more typically bouncy lightweight kiddie pop/rock and a boisterous alternate version of "The Tra La La Song". I am not including these here as the CD is still available commercially.
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The rip provided here was taken from vinyl at 192kps and includes full album artwork. Also for your entertainment, I am including the words from their very catchy opening theme song - The Tra La La Song.
.One banana, two banana, three banana, four
Four bananas make a bunchand so do many more.
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Comin'on to bring you the Banana Splits show
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(CHORUS):
Makin' up a mess of fun, makin' up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la
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Track Listing
01. We're the Banana Splits
02. I'm Gonna Find a Cave
03. This Spot
04. Doin' the Banana Split
05. Toy Piano Melody
06. Soul

07. The Tra La La Song
08. Wait Til Tomorrow
09. You're the Lovin' End
10. In New Orleans
11. Two-Ton Tessie
12. Don't Go Away - Go-Go Girl
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LinkBanana Splits Link (40Mb) New Link 02/08/2014
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Banana Splits Alternative Link (40Mb)  New Link 12/10/2015
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7 comments:

  1. OH MAN!!
    I NEVER Dreamed I'd see this one anywhere! I bout laughed myself off my chair!....and I got got a boot 8 dvd set for the first season! I loved whatching this show when it ran when I was 4 - 5 years old back in 70 - 71!!! AND! I could get people cursing me when they would hear me singing the theme song and I'd get it stuck in their head!
    and yes at that age I though Jan Michael Vincent looked good ;-)

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  2. Hi iH Luv

    that CD you mentioned EXISTS??
    not according to Amazon.
    I just went over and checked the only Banana Splits CD that exists is one that came out in 1995 with whoever the Beagles Show was Never heard of that one!

    So where does one find this CD???

    An Inquiring Gypsy Wants to know!
    thanks

    Gee my post to the ProgRock blog are -4 hours behind me and your +11 hours ahead! haven't chatted with anybody in Australia in years Wonder how Shane is?? keep forgetting your so far ahead of me! Cleveland O!
    Happy Easter

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  3. Thanx for the back cover scan. Barry White, Al Kooper & Gene Pitney song writing credits for "Doin' The Banana Splits" "You're The Lovin' End" & Two-Ton Tessie"

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  4. Thanks for callin' in Gypsy. I haven't actually seen the CD release of this LP, but did read a review about it somewhere on the web. So it must exist - but may be out of print.
    Good luck finding it
    Cheers from Down Under !

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  5. I remember the theme song and as the All Music Guide Rock book gives this album 5 stars, I have to hear it - thanks

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  6. Hey BigGray
    Thanks for dropping in. I hope you like the album - it really is a great compilation that is lots of fun. Or as the 'Splits' would say:

    Makin' up a mess of fun, makin' up a mess of fun
    Lots of fun for everyone
    Tra la la, la la la la

    Cheers from DownUnder

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  7. Haven't heard [or thought of] this in well over forty years , thanks [I think!].

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