Friday, July 4, 2008

Where Have All Good Themes Gone?

Can you whistle or mentally cue up any recent TV theme tunes? I can do Eastenders and Have I Got News For You, but wouldn't know a post millenium motif or TV tune if I tripped over it (apart from QI, which is possibly the weediest opening anthem ever).

So what happened to big brassy small screen themes packed with action and splash - is it to do with budgets? It usually is. And where are the new names to replace Laurie Johnson, Ronnie Hazlehurst, John Barry or Barry Gray (the fun size John Barry). All of the above and and a handful of others wrote compositions so strong they were regularly released as singles or bundled up into budget compilations.

One often overlooked and underplayed obscurity is John Barry's theme to The Orson Welles Mysteries, which makes a perfect companion piece to his Persuaders theme.

You can download The Orson Welles Mysteries here

Or grab Geoff Love playing Your Top TV Themes here

But, if you fancy something cinematic why not try out this team up from Roman Empress and myself.


Sky Clearbrook said...

I've got that album!

Picked it up for about a pound in an Aberdeen charity shop in the early 1990s.

Planet Mondo said...

Sky I had it too and the variation 'Your Favourite Themes' there's a gallery of Geoff Love here

Did you have this though...

Piley said...

I used to love those albums - got tons of them (the James Bond one and a 'westerns' one were big sellers), but I was always disapointed that they wern't the originals. Now of course it's a nice touch that they are 'covers', but in those days I felt i'd been conned!

Axe Victim said...

Yes I know what you mean P. 'Big War Movie Themes' is a prime example! To this day I still feel like I have been violated whenever I think about that album. It took my whole week's pocket money to buy it one Saturday morning, which was usually at about 9.10am before the tills were even open. I blew the lot one week on that pile of old pony in the Ealing Broadway branch of WH Smiths in its downstairs record section. A whole week I had to live with that bad decision. Grrr. And don't get me going on bogus film soundtracks...

Phil Norman said...

I also had this LP (blimey, did anyone not have it?) along with an album of Wurlitzer organ covers of World of Sport and the like.

Even programmes that have faded from memory had memorable themes back then. I couldn't tell you a blind thing about Who Pays the Ferryman? (other than it was set in Greece) but I find myself whistling the theme on a regular basis.

Cocktails said...

Yes, if the ubiquitous Geoff Love was still around he could do a ripper cover of... the Big Brother theme tune...

planet mondo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
planet mondo said...

P - It always felt like second best didn't it. Great cover art though , but how many copies of 'Owen MD/Sleepy Shores' or 'Onedin Line/Theme' From Spartacus does anyone need?

AV - 'Violated By (Geoff) Love' surely that's a ready made Magic Ship song title.

Phil - my regular but random whistle is the little motif used before and after the ad breaks in Benny Hill (played against a visual of fireworks?)

Cocktails - that is genius. Or Jack Parnell is he still around?

Axe Victim said...

I confess to taking great delight in insisting upon whistling loudly and dreadfully out of tune to the theme to the Antiques Roadshow whenever it comes on TV. It drives my family mad - which is why I love to do it! A footnote to that is my friend Dunc is currently doing a stint with AR as its silver expert. Should be good fun looking out for him next series.

PM - 'Violated by Love' is a corker mate. I shall certainly be using that somewhere. PS we're now on Amazon, as are you and Piley!!!

Matthew Rudd said...

I refute your QI suggestion. I think it's a cracking theme, and it has for years now (ever since Howard Goodall gave permission for the BBC to upload it) acted as the alarm on my mobile phone.

My only theme album was the BBC Sporting Themes one which came out sometime in the late 80s. World Cup Grandstand followed by the full version of Wimbledon (you just get the start of the twiddly little verse bit before Sue Barker butts in) and that fantastic one-finger bassy thing which soundtracked the BBC's darts coverage for years and years.

Clair said...

My fave theme ever is The Rockford Files. No contest.

Planet Mondo said...

Matt - I'm not convinced it sounds a bit thin and UB40ish to me, like the incidental music from an 80s Brit Flick.

Clair - The Rockford Files is a belter, but 'Gotcha' from Starksy and Hutch is possibly my fave US theme you can grab it here

Sky Clearbrook said...

I didn't have that Impact one although these Studio 2 LPs do seem to be a charity shop staple.

Some (but by no means all) of my fave TV themes:

Avenues and Alleyways - The Protectors (surprise, surprise)
Johnny One Note - John Craven's Newsround.
The Tomorrow People.
Chicken Man - Grange Hill.
High Wire - Danger Man.
Man In A Suitcase (or I did like it until TFI Friday ruined it).
Distant Hills - Crown Court closing theme
Department S
Black Beauty (Stacy Dorning - cor!)
CSS - Whole Lotta Love (TOTP)
Up To date - Man About The House

blah blah blah