When I was a toddler in the early 1960s, I was given a children's storytelling LP called Arabian Nights' Entertainment, read by Martyn Green. The album introduced me to "Aladdin," "The Flying Horse," "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves," and "The Speaking Bird," with music from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.
I listened to this album thousands— no, millions— of times. Usually with my thumb in my mouth. Who was the amazing Martyn Green? He was a vocal magician to me. I stared at the album cover endlessly, fixated by the long fingernails of a muscular genie smoking out of Aladdin's bottle. He sported enormous sparkling rings on both hands. Perverse! ;-) It was such a guilty pleasure to stare at his figure.
I remember asking— and this is strange, since I was only two or three— why was Ali Baba given the "title" of his famous tale, when it's his slave Morgiana who saves the day with her wits, boiling oil, and dagger? It should have been Morgiana and the 40 Thieves.
The album disappeared from our home decades ago, and it's no exxageration to say I was bereft by its loss. I couldn't remember any of the words on the LP, just the picture.
Something made me search again this morning... a genie in my ear. And by Google, I FOUND IT! To my amazement, I can now "read" all the text quite easily on the cover, something that eluded me at two.
Such a valentine! Now I can share it with you. You can download ALL the best mid-century children's albums here.
Morgiana loves you,
My gift is thanks to a generous children's album collector named Matt Bynum who put together a web-page called Children's Vinyl Record Series, complete with ALL his favorite mp3 files, and cover art. I am indebted to him.
When you read the comments on Matt's page, you'll see other sobbingly grateful baby boomers thanking him for such a wonderful curation. Other delights include: A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra, Danny Kaye Tells Six Stories from Faraway Places, and Lauren Bacall reading James Thurber's "13 Clocks"!