Friday, 1 June 2012

Sunshine Superman = LSD-25 Übermensch

Krypton as presented in the 1940 Bud Collyer radio program was not originally located in another star system or galaxy untold light-years distant, but instead the same orbit as Earth on the opposite side of our Sun, at the same velocity, so it is practically for all Earthlings, invisible.
The Man Of Steel's saga from the four-color page world, comics and newsprint, would be incomplete without mention of Folk-Rock singer Donovan Leitch's "Sunshine Superman" song, released in July 1966 undoubtedly a big year for stage, television, and silver screen entertainment based on characters and properties formerly seen only in the "funny papers".
Sunshine, Earth's yellow sun not only the source of Kal-El's super-powers but also counter-cultural code-word euphemism for lysergic acid diethylamide
LSD-25LSD-25 and the original Superman,"Übermensch", sharing approximately the same space/time co-ordinates as to their respective origins, the combination of the two making it all seem so "cosmic".
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in January 1966 after Donovan met Bob Dylan (where they probably rolled a few funny papers or two of their own) it was clearly a departure from the Woody Guthrie tinged material that had him unfairly labeled and dismissed here Stateside as just another "Dylan imitator", when he was clearly endeavoring to be as unlike Robert Zimmerman in every way possible. 
That other National Periodical Publications icon Batman, "the Caped Crusader", was riding high (as was no doubt some of the viewing audience) on TV ever since the debut of the  two-part series pilot January 12, 1966 (there's that word again) "Hi Diddle Riddle", and the conclusion, "Smack In The Middle", each 30 minutes in length.
Plans drawn for a Wonder Woman
Dick Tracy, and Green Hornet series, by the same William Dozier and Howie Horowitz of the über-successful Bat show, of which only Britt Reid and Kato were deemed worthy enough by American Broadcasting Company executives of carrying a prime-time slot program.


Batman's crime-fighting compadre Superman wasn't as fortunate as any of these as the live-action offering from 1952 to 1958 with George Reeves was ancient history, more recent attempts trying to revive it on television especially after Reeves' premature demise in the guise of "Superboy" or "Super Pup" were unsuccessful, and the recent flop Broadway musical with Bob Holiday that opened March 29, 1966 at the Alvin Theateronly lasted 129 performances.
Broadway miss lyricist Charles Strouse interestingly enough wrote lyrics to the Sammy Davis Jr. Tony winner "Golden Boy", where the song "Yes I Can" had the words, "...who am I, a sunburned Superman?" just 2 years earlier, and CBS-TV had "The New Adventures Of Superman" with original Fleischer 'toon voice artists Clayton "Bud" Collyer and Joan Alexander, so how could it lose?
However it did,
 and yet the Scottish minstrel was releasing a song in July 1966 with not only mention of the Kryptonian in the title, the lyrics, but also fellow emerald JLA member Green Lantern.  
Marijuana, LSD-25 and comics were always great fun togetherjust check out Syd Barrett era Pink Floydand explains partly why Andy Warhol made his own version of Batman (and Dracula!) in a 1964 underground movie two years earlier, his Factory holding all the hip happenings where the interplay between the audience/participants were fueled in part on acid, or Roy Lichtenstein's blow-ups of strip frames  so that the individual dots could be seen in an exaggerated, distorted, fashion, as if on LSDor so I'm told. 
Donovan's recording was problematic as the release in the UK was delayed by over a year or more, and while the US version did not have any difficulty with the music portion as it did apparently with the cover art:
Not only did "Superman" originally appear on the album's front cover art, with long light-brown hair, hovering over what seems like an SCA meeting or joust, but also DC's popular Batman AND Marvel's Spider-Man! 

No Green Lantern in sight though, and for that matter no mention of the aforementioned incognito Messrs. Wayne & Parker. Just imagine the marketing nightmare the record company faced, as did Liberty Records' "Jan & Dean Meet Batman" earlier in March of that same year, not too long after the TV serial's premiere, National/DC refusing to allow them to 'be' the characters in comedy bits on the LP, only songs were permitted such as "The Joker Is Wild" and so on, but this was worse because even though there were restrictions on content at least the main crime-fighters, villains, Gotham City, etc., could be mentioned, Batman and Robin were clearly on the cover art and mentioned in the liner notes. 
Not so with "Sunshine Superman".
In potential damage-control mode in order to prevent a possible copyright infringement lawsuit by National Periodical, the record label preemptively had the scheduled cover hastily redone, and instead of the mighty Man of Steel and his friends, a generic head photo of Donovan Leitch inserted with the prerequisite "psychedelic" lettering font. 
"Call Tobor*, eight days a week."
*Robot spelled sdrawkcab
Even The Beatles themselves were not immune to such altering and editing their images originally intended for their finished product's art, as the infamous cover for their "Yesterday...And Today" would soon prove, just about dove-tailing with the Donovan debacle, and forever ending their tribute(s) to girl groups and romance comics.

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