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Walt Kelly: The Vinyl Years

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Posted 5 years ago

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Belltown
(174 items)

I'm pretty sure that Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett either yawned or said something like "Walt who?" when they learned, in 1956, that Pogo cartoonist Walt Kelly was in the studio with the Jimmy Carroll orchestra and a collection of backup singers to cut his first vinyl LP, "Songs of the Pogo." A 45 featuring three tunes from that landmark recording was also released that year—a perfectly playable copy is shown here.

Kelly's voice had a limited range, but Pogo fans did not listen to "Songs of the Pogo" to admire Kelly's vocal stylings, such as they were. The lyrics to most of the tunes on the disc had already been published as poems in Pogo comics. Now, music and lyrics would come crashing together.

"Go Go Pogo" is the main track on this 45. Delivered in Kelly snarling baritone, which sometimes sounds like charcoal briquets and gravel being ground together in a longshoreman's fist, "Go Go Pogo" was the cartoon character's presidential campaign song. History records that the fictional possum lost to an actual war hero; go figure.

As for those backup singers, one of them was Bob McGrath, who played a character named Bob on "Sesame Street."

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