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Various Artists/Devices

Kid Rhino

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The booklet says, “Not for commercial use.” But of course, in this digital age, everything’s up for grabs, and all of these once closely guarded sounds will be instantly sampled for all manner of unauthorized uses—if they haven’t been already. Whereas at one time each movie studio maintained its own library of proprietary whiz-bang noises—and occasionally rented the rights to them for a pretty penny—now these subliminal soundtracks to the Looney Tunes world are just another revenue stream for a multinational corporation. Not just a catalogue of sounds, Crash! Bang! Boom! is a semimusical production, with credits for a writer, voice director, casting director, and additional dialogue scripter. The sound effects are grouped thematically (e.g., “Sounds to Scare Your Mom”; “Evil Laughter” is nice) and introduced by various cartoon characters. Interestingly, it takes three people to do the work of the singular Mel Blanc. Joe Alasky handles the lion’s share—and duck’s and bird’s and pig’s and cat’s and skunk’s and Martian’s shares, some with more verisimilitude than others. The increasingly ubiquitous Billy West voices Bugs. He’s very good, but a careful listener can detect the difference between his Bugs and Blanc’s. Mostly, however, this disc is a tribute to Tregoweth Brown, the unsung mad genius who created and recorded many of these insane sounds beginning in the late ’30s. Without his devotion to finding the perfect falling-off-a-cliff noise—again and again, each time different—Road Runner cartoons would not have been nearly as brilliant. The other Warner Bros. cartoon genius, composer Carl Stalling, is also represented, a standout cut being his “Marching Pink Elephants” (from “Calling Dr. Porky”). The interstitial comments and sketches play as convincingly as the chatter on an Oscar telecast but will make it slightly more difficult for turntablists and DJs to find precise edit points to lift a bonk, boink, or plink. But I’m still guessing that Tracks 56 and 57, “Funny Car” and “Gizmo,” will appear on a techno hit before the year is out. In fact, I’m booting up Sound Forge right now. —Dave Nuttycombe