Where, oh, where did people get the idea that animals can sing? We’re not talking about birdsong here or even the mournful yodel of the coyote. This is not about the sounds of nature with all their bizarre effluvia, from whale song to chittering grasshoppers. If it floats your boat to buy from those soundscape kiosks that always seem to be waiting innocently enough until some poor unsuspecting passer-by triggers their sensor, then please pursue your need. And, let me point out for the unenlightened, Alvin and his fellow chipmunks were not really chipmunks. We can leave it to your imagination how the vocal effect was achieved, but castrati were not employed according to an official Capitol representative. I’m talking the Singing Dogs, the Jingle Cats, and whatever other heinous animals feel moved to semi-melodious vocalizing.
The original Singing Dogs (Caesar, King, Pearl, and Dolly- Pussy rounded out the group on later recordings) started in Copenhagen in 1955 when Danish sound engineer Carl Weismann spliced together tapes which had been ruined by nearby dogs barking. Eureka! I have created… Jingle Bells! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! The recording was a huge hit for RCA/Victor, managing to resurface periodically and sell again to the next generation of entranced listeners. As if people will listen to any heavily altered animal sounds, the Singing Dogs have had to face many attempts to knock them from their pedestal.
The Jingle Cats have lately ruled the den, selling a disturbing two million copies worldwide. Mike Spalla, musician and owner of nineteen cats, decided to record his freeloaders. Binky is the lead. We have their success (and our own dollars) to thank for the emergence of the Jingle Dogs, spawned from their cameos on Jingle Cats recordings. Their newest album, King of the Woof, will be out in 2006. May Santa’s reindeer leave something special on your roof next Christmas if you buy it.