The Official Adventures of Superman - 33 1/3 RM Album
Leo the Lion Records, #CH-1022

Every summer of my childhood, Mom and Dad spent one week out of town at a conference, leaving my brother and me at our grandparents' house. This welcome break from routine was always an adventure in itself, but the capper was that at week's end, the folks would return bearing gifts, souvenirs of their travels.

One year we hit the jackpot with a pair of groovy records recounting classic adventures of Superman and Batman. The records dated to 1966 and doubtless owed their existence to the Batman craze of that year, but by the time they landed in our grubby little mitts it was the early 70s. We spent many a rainy day playing these records over and over, to the point where I still have the stories memorized even now, in my dotage. Only years later did I realize they were adaptations of actual comic book stories, sometimes with embellishments but often word-for-word.

The albums had some talented voice artists and the kind of professional sound effects you'd expect from vintage radio shows. Some of the cast were in fact veterans of Superman's radio days. Joan Alexander provided the voice of Lois Lane, as she had for years on radio's "Adventures of Superman," in the 17 animated Superman shorts from Fleischer Studios and in Filmation's "New Adventures of Superman" cartoon series in the 1960s. Also appearing on this record was Ms. Alexander's cast-mate from the 60s show, Jack Grimes as Jimmy Olsen. Providing narration is the incomparable Jackson Beck, another alum of Superman radio and cartoon adventures. I grew up hearing Beck's booming voiceovers in countless TV ads and cartoons, and also knew him as the voice of "Bluto" in the Popeye cartoons. Beck had the kind of voice that imparted a sense of vital importance and desperate urgency to just about anything; he probably could have kept me on the edge of my seat with a reading of the Yellow Pages. Certainly nobody announced our hero's arrival like he did..."It's Seeyoooooperman!"

In the role of the Man of Steel himself is broadway actor Bob Holiday, who at the time of this recording was starring in the musical, "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman." If he seems a bit stiffer and less sure of himself than some of the radio vets here, Holiday definitely has the kind of deep-chested, heroic delivery you'd expect in a Superman.

My original copy of the album went missing a long time ago, but thanks to the modern miracle of eBay, I was able to track down a nearly pristine copy, complete with original shrinkwrap and scratch-free disc. That other internet miracle, Google, turned up a bit more information on the mysterious "Leo The Lion" record label under which this album and two volumes of Batman recordings were produced.

These are great tracks that really should be re-issued in a new package. But as that's not likely to happen, and as I don't want you to have to spend as many years as I did tracking down an original, I've done a conversion from vinyl to digital files and made the MP3's available for download here on the site. Just click on the links and voila! It's 1966 all over again. The turntable spins, the needle lowers, and the fun begins. Up, up and away!

"Superman's First Adventure" nothing of the kind. The labeling on the album makes a big deal about dramatizing Superman's first adventure from 1938's Action Comics #1, but in fact this is a story from Superman #3, printed late the next year. That said, it's still a great story and a natural for the full "radio drama" treatment. If you're interested, you can read the original comic online here. You'll notice the audio adaptation follows it word for word.


"The Punishment of Superboy"

One of those gems from the Silver Age of comics that manages to combine a positive life lesson and sick mental cruelty. It's hard to decide which is more disturbing; the idea of Superboy turning brat, the form of punishment Pa Kent finally invents to deal with him, or the fact that all this seemed perfectly acceptable to me as a kid. Have a listen, but not until all your homework is done!