Monday, May 23, 2016

Bat-Music #21 - Al Hirt - Batman Theme

Bat-Music #21 - Al Hirt - Batman Theme
Trumpet player and bandleader Al Hirt is famous for performing the theme song to Batman's sister show Green Hornet, but he also brought his signature trumpet playing to the Batman theme on his 1966 album "The Horn Meets the Hornet."  The Horn Meets the Hornet saw Hirt reacting to the success of his Green Hornet theme as a single by releasing a whole album of TV theme songs.  In addition to the Green Hornet and Batman, the album also features the themes from Get Smart, The Monkees, Tarzan, and more.

Note: I couldn't find an upload of Al Hirt's Batman theme on YouTube.  However, the entire album, featuring the Green Hornet, Batman and more, is on YouTube.  The whole thing is worth a listen, and it's only 26 minutes long, so it won't take up much of your time.  The Batman Theme begins at 12:03.  If you just want to cut to the chase, here's a link that begins with Batman.

Al Hirt - The Horn Meets the Hornet

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bat-Music #20 - The Camps - The Ballad of Batman

Bat-Music #20 - The Camps - The Ballad of Batman
"The Ballad of Batman" by The Camps is a rarity in that it's a song inspired by the Batman TV show that was released in 1965... one year before the show aired for the first time in 1966.

The story goes that the band's record producer got wind of the show while it was in production, and had the band record "The Ballad of Batman" and its B-side "Batmobile" to submit to the television producers as possible theme songs for the show.

Thankfully the TV show went with Neal Hefti's classic Batman theme instead.  Otherwise we'd all be singing "we're behind the wheel, of the Batmobile, it's fun-fun-fun to drive it everyday," instead of "na-na-na-na na-na-na-na Batman," and that just wouldn't be the same.

The Camps, who also went by The Campers,  were Sonny Curtis on vocals and guitar and Jerry Allison on drums, although the duo was perhaps better known as members of "The Crickets," yeah those Crickets, as in "Buddy Holly and...," so even though their Batman theme never made it to TV, they still had a pretty decent day job to fall back on.  In fact, Jerry Allison played drums with the band for 60 years, from it's inception in the 1950s until earlier this year, when the Crickets played their final gig on February 6th, 2016.
The Camps - The Ballad of Batman

The Camps - Batmobile

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bat-Music #19 - The Marketts - The Batman Theme

Bat-Music #19 - The Marketts - The Batman Theme
This is one of many albums of instrumentals that was released to cash in 1960s Batmania.  it was easy to take a bunch of generic surf rock instros, slap Batman-themed names on them, and claim they were inspired by the show.  The Marketts album is a step above most of them, though.  They add things like bat sound effects, the Joker's laughter, vocal choruses with character names, and musical cues inspired by the Batman TV theme, so this album really does sound like it was legitimately inspired by the show.

  1. Batman Theme
  2. Bat Cave
  3. Robin the Boy Wonder
  4. Bat Signal
  5. Batmobile
  6. The Joker
  7. The Penguin
  8. The Bat
  9. Dr. Death
  10. The Riddler
  11. Bat Cape
  12. The Cat Woman

The Marketts - Batcave

The Marketts - Robin the Boy Wonder

The Marketts - The Joker

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bat-Music #18 - The Musical Stylings of Burt Ward

Bat-Music #18 - The Musical Stylings of Burt Ward
In 1966, the popularity of the Batman TV show had turned Robin actor Burt Ward in to the nation's latest teen idol.  Eager to cash in on his stardom, MGM signed Ward to a record deal.  The plan was to released two singles, and then a full length album.  Then in one of the weirdest pairings in musical history, they hired Frank Zappa to spearhead the project.

"Holy Odd Couple, Batman!"  Burt Ward's image as Robin was squeaky-clean, law-abiding, and all-American.  Zappa meanwhile was the king of the long haired freaks, about as far removed from wholesome Robin as you can get.  I believe this was before the release of Zappa's first album, so the people at MGM probably didn't know quite who it was they had signed to help guide their newest star to the top of the pop charts.

The biggest obstacle preventing Ward from becoming a music star wasn't Zappa writing music that was too weird, though.  It was that Burt Ward flat out could not sing.  After a few disastrous recordings with Burt singing, followed by a failed stint with a vocal coach, Zappa just had Ward talk over a musical background, William Shatner style.

One single would eventually be released, the Zappa-penned "Boy Wonder, I Love You," in which "Boy Wonder" reads from a weird letter from a fan (actually based on several pieces of fan mail Ward actually received), and a cover of Nat King Cole's "Orange Colored Sky" (a song that was also performed by Adam West).  One other song, "Teenage Bill of Rights," as well as several instrumental tracks that Ward had yet to record vocals for, were completed before MGM pulled the plug on the sessions.  These other tracks have never officially been released, but they are widely available as bootlegs.

Burt Ward - Boy Wonder, I Love You

Burt Ward - Orange Colored Sky

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Diamond Select Marvel Retro Captain America Figure Set

Diamond Select Marvel Retro Captain America Figure Set
Diamond Select's Marvel Retro Captain America Figure Set is part of a series of figures they have been releasing that come with a reproduction of a vintage Marvel Mego figure, along with a variety of customizing parts to go along with it.  The Captain America set comes with a reproduction of Mego's Captain America figure from the 1970s and it's display box,  along with costume parts you can add to the figure to make a Steve Rogers "secret identity" figure, or a Captain America in a more modern costume (sort of like what Mego would have made if it was still around producing these figures today).  It also comes with a booklet detailing the history of Captain America, Mego's original Cap action figures, a look at some custom Cap figures, and some behind the scenes stuff about the making of this new set. 

American Trio
These sets are usually pretty expensive, the manufacturer's suggested retail is $80.  This unfortunately is a condition of the licensing agreement that Diamond select has with Marvel.  They are required to price this as a high-end collectable rather than as an action figure.  But if you shop around a bit, you can usually find them cheaper.  Amazon for instance, usually has them for about 25 bucks off the suggested price.  I picked this up on sale for $38 last October.  Anytime you see them for a price like that, I suggest you pick them up, because they are fun toys.

The Mego reproduction figure retains all of the goofiness and costume inaccuracies of the original figure from the 1970s.
Rather than swap parts back and forth for the three different costumes, I picked up a couple of extra "Type S" bodies from 8 Inch Super Store.  I used the body that came with the set on the Steve Rogers figure, a regular Type S body on the vintage style Captain America, and a Type S with "upgrade kit" limbs on the modern style Captain.  The upgrade kit limbs have a more defined, muscular look to them. Most of those details get lost under the costume, except for the broader shoulders, which are noticeable and make a big difference.  Also the upgrade kit legs are slightly longer, so your hero ends up slightly taller and more heroic looking.

The modern styled figure features a comics accurate costume and more detailed sculpt.
 More pictures after the break...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bat-Music #17 - The Liverpool Scene - Batpoem

Bat-Music #17 - The Liverpool Scene - Batpoem
Adam West tackled plenty of tricky foes back in his days as the caped crusader, but none quite like this, where the Batman theme backs up spoken word poetry pitting Batman against birth control pills, LSD, and the Vietnam War.  "Batpoem" is off of the 1968 Liverpool Scene album "The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene."

The Liverpool Scene - Batpoem

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Batman, Episodes 23 and 24 - "The Ring of Wax," and "Give 'Em the Axe" (1966)

Batman, Episodes 23 and 24 - "The Ring of Wax," and "Give 'Em the Axe" (1966)

50 years ago...
The 23rd and 24th episode of the Batman TV series aired on ABC TV.   Episode 23, "The Ring of Wax," aired on March, 30, 1966.  Episode 24, "Give 'Em the Axe," aired on March 31, 1966.
Batman Looks to the Skies

These were the third pair of episodes to feature Frank Gorshin as The Riddler.
The Riddler Celebrates His Victory

The Riddler concocts a "universal solvent wax" as part of a scheme to steal "The Lost Treasure of the Incas." This adventure takes Batman and Robin to a spooky wax museum, a candle factory full of boiling wax, and a room full of medieval torture instruments.  This episode also feature Linda Gaye Scott as The Riddler's moll "Moth."  Moth wears a skintight purple jumpsuit that looks a bit like a preview of Batgirl's costume in season 3.
The Lawmen Visit the Library

Robin's catchphrases in these episodes include "holy mucilage" and "holy paraffin."

Batman Worries About Robin's Safety

More screencaps after the break...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bat-Music #16 - The Flaming Lips - Batman Theme

Bat-Music #16 - The Flaming Lips - Batman Theme
This is a track from early in the career of The Flaming Lips (like maybe 1983 or 1984?), when they covered this because supposedly it was one of the few songs that they knew how to play.

The Flaming Lips - Batman Theme

Bonus Flaming Lips!  While this song is not Batman 1966 related, it was on the soundtrack to "Batman Forever," so there's still a "Bat" connection...

The Flaming Lips - Bad Days

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