Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine - 1973 - Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine

Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine
Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine

01. Professor Fuddle's Fantastic Fairy Tale Machine - 3:00
02. Rain's My Name - 2:05
03. Witch's Chant - 2:08
04. Philomel - 2:40
05. Dancing Master's Jig - 1:42
06. Indigo Evening - 2:43
07. Counting Comparison - 2:37
08. Sonnet Song - 2:45
09. The Opera Cracks The Bell - 1:53

Mickey Andrews (Dobro, guitar)
Paul Bradbury (vocals)
Bruce Ley (Moog synthesizer, piano)
Don Paveling (bass), Jim Pecchia (guitar)
Gary Tiller (vocals, drums, percussion)

The « Fuddle album was inspired following an idea by Alan Ball, who went on to join the Canada Arts Council. Alan had the idea of writing a play than explain, to children, how computers work. Nowadays, of course, children toil adults how computers work, but such was not the way of the world back in 1971 Personal computers had not been invented. Computers were, in tact, huge complex machines, taking up entire floors of space, in places like universities.

Teams of “programmers” operated these humming contraptions, feeding the machinery with cards on which data was “computed” by perforating, or piercing, the cards with strategically olaced holes. But in digress. The story of the play is a 1070's fairy tale, set in a fishing hamlet in Newfoundland ('New-fun-Land'), Canada's most easterly island province. Jeff, a young boy of about 12. visits his uncle, Professor Fuddle, who has acquired an old union hall in the hamlet, in which to build his experimental 'computer'.

The opening tune introduces and animates the huge machine, which takes up the entire width of the stage. As Jeff arrives, the professor is seated before the machine's controls at centre stage. He is testing the machine's capability to produce 'holographs' of storybook characters. Snow White appears from the machine's 'good' side, hiding from a wicked queen in a haunted forest, singing the LP's second song. 'Rain's my name', and dreamily dancing to the computer's generated music of Philomel, from Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Snow White's 'Seven Dwarfs' arc produced from the computer's 'good' side, during song 5, as 'dancing masters', local wooden dolls, normally suspended on sticks (the amchine appears to have absorbed the local culture).

From the 'evil' side of the computer, ghosts of mermaids from seagoing mythology, haunt the witch into recanting her ways, via the song 'The opera cracks the bell'. As forgetful old professors might do, Professor Fuddle has forgotten to 'teach' it to count - a major flaw, the audience learns, when two huge actors appear as the 'dancing masters', supposedly portraying the 'Seven Dwarfs'. So, Jeff and his assembled characters encourage the audience to help them program, or 'teach' the computer to count, and to 'learn' tho difference between 'big' and 'small', by singing the 'Count Comprison Song'. Songs 'Indigo Evening' and 'Sonnet Song (Plenylunios)' add mood and moral purpose to the plot, as presentations for younger minds were supposed to do, back in the 1970's.

The witch's 'evil bell' cracks, to the tune 'The Opera Cracks The Bell', and the spell of her thousand year reign of evil is broken. The play, staged at the St. John's Arts & Culture Center as its Christmas presentation, was a success, according to the next day's reviews. Alan's play wont on to be included in a Collage of Canadian Children's Plays. Following which, every child around the world over the age of three learned to make computers sing and talk, and we adults slunk back to our caves. The rest, as they say, is History. And so is this forgotten LP.

1 comment:

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