Archive

Archive for the ‘TV Themes’ Category

Any Major Music from ‘The Deuce’

May 24th, 2018 5 comments

In many TV shows, music plays a character in its own right. A song on the radio can portend a looming crisis or the state of mind of two lovers in bed (with their Z-shaped sheet). The 2017 HBO drama The Deuce used music to brilliant effect to help set the scene of early 1970s in New York City’s underbelly of prostitution, pornography, police corruption and organised crime.

The series had no orchestral score to guide the viewer; that job is done by the incidental music — on the radio, from passing cars, on a juke box, etc. George Pelecanos, co-producer of The Deuce with David Simon (they also did The Wire and Treme together), has explained that much thought went into choosing the right song for each scene. Music placement on TV is never random, but here extraordinary thought went into it.

Much of the music draws from the pool of late-1960s, early-’70s soul and funk. With the setting being the underworld, and many of the protagonists being black, there must have been a temptation to litter the soundtrack with blaxploitation film music (The Tarantino Option, as I call it). Pelecanos said that this would have been inauthentic; people didn’t play that stuff on their HiFis or on the juke-box. It would have been clichéd and was wisely avoided.

Music supervisor Blake Leyh explained in Billboard that “we made a conscious decision to feature lesser-known tracks to a large degree – although we have some of the more obvious favorites like James Brown and the Velvet Underground when appropriate. But much of the music is more likely found in a record collector’s obscurities bin.”

Starting with the smartly chosen theme song, Curtis Mayfield’s discombobulating If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go, there are songs that communicate purely by their sound the pressure and violence of that world. Other times there’s the old but useful trick of contrasting a sweet tune with cruelty on screen (one that was employed to particularly memorable effect in The Sopranos, when the weakened Tony Soprano beats up his hapless and innocent driver in a show of strength; all the while the cheerful doo wop tune Every Day Of The Week by The Students is playing).

Pernell Walker, James Franco and Maggie Gyllennhaal in a scene from HBO’s series The Deuce.

As it is with many other TV shows, the choice of music used in them presents us with a treasure of new songs to discover or to revisit forgotten tracks.

Pleasingly, the songs featured in The Deuce, other than the closing theme (by The Wire alumnus Lafayette Gilchrist), fit into the time-frame of the show. An exception is Johnnie Taylor’s Standing In For Jody in Episode 1, set in 1971. The song came out only in 1972 (perhaps the musical directors thought of Taylor’s 1970 song Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone). And if that is the extent to which one can nitpick, then the music supervisors did a fantastic job.

Few songs here have been used in other TV shows, but Darondo’s sublime Didn’t has been used in several other TV shows: Ray Donovan (another series with excellent music), Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, I’m Dying Up Here and the shortlived Lovesick.

The present mix is a small selection of music featured in the show’s eight episodes (the first episode alone featured close to 30 songs). I’ve tried to create a bit of a story arch: The mix begins with the Mayfield theme, and ends with the Ray Charles track that plays in the jukebox as the series concludes, followed by the closing theme.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-pimped covers. PW in comments.

1. Curtis Mayfield – If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go (1970)
2. Rufus Thomas – (Do The) Push And Pull (Part 1) (1970)
3. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady (1971)
4. James Brown – Out Of Sight (1965)
5. Darondo – Didn’t I (1972)
6. The Manhattans – I Don’t Wanna Go (1969)
7. James Carr – These Ain’t Raindrops (1969)
8. Lee Williams & The Cymbals – Peeping Through The Window (1967)
9. Johnnie Taylor – Standing In For Jody (1972)
10. Ann Peebles – I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home Tonight (1971)
11. Dusty Springfield – Haunted (1971)
12. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love (1971)
13. The Guess Who – These Eyes (1969)
14. Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes (1969)
15. The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love And Hate (1971)
16. The Notations – A New Day (1971)
17. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
18. Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1971)
19. War – Slippin’ Into Darkness (1971)
20. George McGregor & The Bronzettes – Temptation Is Too Hard To Fight (1967)
21. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (1971)
22. The Lovettes – I Need A Guy (1967)
23. Ray Charles – Careless Love (1962)
24. Lafayette Gilchrist – Assume The Position (2004)

https://rg.to/file/7044a3acaa8775f6d937bb2b2c9a02da/_Deuc.rar.html

More Music from TV Shows
More Mix CD-Rs

Any Major Soul Train

April 12th, 2018 7 comments

 

If you say Soul Train, Americans of a certain generation and fans of soul and funk anywhere will think of funky dancers with big ’fros and hot threads, Don Cornelius’ flamboyantly fashionable suits and baritone voice, the animated train, hair care products ads, scrambleboards, awkward audience questions, cool catchphrases and great music. You could bet your last dollar, it was gonna be a stone gas, honey.

Soul Train’s cultural impact was tremendous. The first nationally syndicated black music show, it was owned by a black man (presenter Cornelius, who sadly committed suicide on February 1, 2012), staffed mostly by black people, sponsored by a black company selling black hair products, and featured black artists who did not often feature on TV. Socially, Soul Train was TV’s raised fist of black consciousness. Culturally, Soul Train helped popularise dances, fashion and hair.

 

Still from the famous Afro Sheen commercial with civil war era activist Frederick Douglass administering a lesson in ‘fro-dom. No wonder Donald Trump thought Douglass was still alive.

 

The afro, it is said, became so potent a symbol of black identity – the hirsute extension of the Rev Jesse Jackson’s “I Am Somebody” mantra – in large part thanks to Soul Train (and its sponsors, the Johnson Company with its Black Sheen products). The dances were widely copied, by the kids at home and by the stars. Michael Jackson copied the Moonwalk from Jeffrey Daniels, and breakdancing took its cue from Bodypopping, Locking, The Robot and other moves pioneered on Soul Train. And when rap broke in New York, Soul Train helped break it nationally – much as Cornelius resented hip hop. Soul Train even produced its own superstar musical act: Shalamar comprised Soul Train dancers Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley and, after a couple of personnel changes, Howard Hewett (boyfriend of Cornelius’ secretary), and in the US were signed to Cornelius’ Soul Train Records label.

 

Don Cornelius, who died on February 1, 2012 at the age of 75. This post, minus the mix but with other tracks, was first posted here in 2011 and re-posted after Don’s death. It is running here with a brandnew Soul Train mix.

 

And, of course, that’s what Soul Train was about most of all: spreading black music, from the smooth harmonies of The Delfonics to the gangsta rap of Snoop Dogg. This did not mean that the show practised apartheid. Gino Vanelli was the first white artist to appear on the show (Cornelius told the Italo-Canadian jazz-funkster that he was “half-black”; the first white act to feature was Dennis Coffey, whose funk anthem Scorpio provided the music for a Soul Train Gang dance number; the first mixed act to appear on the show was Tower of Power). Soon after, acts such as Elton John, David Bowie, Average White Band, Frankie Valli and Michael McDonald appeared on the show (in later years, such unsoul acts as Duran Duran, Sting, A-ha  and Berlin, as well as the dreaded Michael F Bolton, took a ride on the Soul Train).

 

The Soul Train Gang in action, 1972.

 

Soul Train’s theme song, in its second incarnation, became a #1 in the US, and a massive hit all over the world (to borrow from its brief lyrics). In 1973 Cornelius approached Philadelphia soul maestros Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to come up with a theme for the show to replace King Curtis’ Hot Potatoes, which it did in November 1973. The result was so good, that the composers wanted to release The Theme of Soul Train as a single. When they did, recorded by the Philadelphia International Records (PIR) house band M.F.S.B. with The Three Degrees providing backing vocals, it topped the charts and provided the sound of 1974.

But it didn’t chart under the title The Theme of Soul Train. Cornelius baulked at the idea that PIR release it using the words “Soul Train” in the title because, as he recalled in a VH-1 documentary a couple of years ago, he was being overprotective of his trademark. He would describe that as the “worst decision” he had ever made. So today the Soul Train theme is known as T.S.O.P. (for The Sound Of Philadelphia).

In 1976, T.S.O.P. was replaced as a theme by The Soul Train Gang’s theme, but made a comeback in 1987 in George Duke’s version. It would remain the Soul Train theme, in several re-recordings, until the show’s end in 2006, some 13 years after Don Cornelius signed off for the last time with the words: “And as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and SOULLLLLL!”

If you dig the pics in this post, there are 179 more which I made of Soul Train scenes HERE.

 

Here is a mix of songs that were performed on Soul Train. To narrow down the selection I chose only from tracks that appeared on the wonderful 7-DVD set of Soul Train performances. The first two themes feature on the mix as they appeared on the show; the Soul Train Gang theme, which really is not great, is included as a bonus track on its full version.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-souuuuuuuled covers. PW in comments.

1. Soul Train (King Curtis) – Hot Potatoes Theme (1971)
2. The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child (1970)
3. The Chi-Lites – Have You Seen Her (1971)
4. The Spinners – I’ll Be Around (1972)
5. Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (1972)
6. Four Tops – Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got) (1972)
7. Brighter Side Of Darkness – Love Jones (1972)
8. The Sylvers – Wish That I Could Talk To You (1972)
9. O’Jays – Love Train (1972)
10. Soul Train – Souuuuuuuuuuuuul Train
11. Jermaine Jackson – Daddy’s Home (1973)
12. The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brandnew (1973)
13. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Neither One Of Us (1973)
14. Tower Of Power – So Very Hard To Go (1973)
15. Isley Brothers – That Lady (1973)
16. Soul Train Theme (1973)
17. Barry White – Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby (1974)
18. Billy Preston – Tell Me Something Good (1974)
19. Ecstasy, Passion & Pain – Good Things Don’t Last Forever (1974)
20. L.T.D. – Love Ballad (1976)
21. Lou Rawls – You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine (1976)
22. Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up (Part 1) (1977)
23. Teddy Pendergrass – The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me (1977)
24. Don Cornelius – Love, Peace and Soul
BONUS TRACKS: MFSB – TSOP (1974)
Soul Train Gang – Soul Train ’75 (1965)

GET IT: https://rg.to/file/71e34ba44f28fa4c692a50652cc0945e/Amsoult.rar.html

.

More 1970s Soul
More TV Themes
More Mix CD-Rs

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 4

March 22nd, 2018 2 comments

This fourth mix of full-length versions of popular TV themes has been sitting almost ready to go for a couple of years. I was reminded to complete it a couple of months ago with the death of French composer and innovator Pierre Henry, whose 1967 song Psyché Rock served as the template for the theme from Futurama.

Good thing it went unposted, so as to include a couple tracks from newish TV shows, Bloodline (the first season of which was superb) and Big Little Lies (ditto).

This batch also features the extended versions of themes of two all-time great TV series: Game Of Thrones and The Shield. The latter tends to be overshadowed by The Wire; I think The Shield is The Wire’s equal — and that is not to underestimate the latter, which was a landmark TV show. But, my goodness, if you have never seen The Shield, do whatever you must to fill that gap.

All but one theme here is from the US; the exception is CCS’ cover of Led Zep’s A Whole Lotta Love, which served as the theme of the weekly BBC music show Top Of The Pops from 1970-77. For British youths, TOPT was required viewing. Its cultural and social impact was so immense that there is a highly entertaining podcast discussing — no, surgically dissecting — random old episodes from the 1970s and ‘80s. Titled Chart Music, it is presented with much humour by Al Needham with a rotating team of veteran music journalists such as David Stubbs, Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni. I recommend it.

This mix features a couple of familiar names. Mike Post was on Vol. 1 with the theme from Hill Street Blues and twice on Vol. 3, with the themes from Magnum and Quantum Leap. Here he returns with the theme from The A-Team and, as co-writer, with the theme from The Greatest American Hero, sung by Joey Scarbury under the title Believe It Or Not, which reached #2 on the US charts. One Mike Post theme of which there’s unlikely to be a full version is that of Law & Order. It’s shorter than many a ringtone, but it is instantly recognisable, and therefore spoofable.

Bill Conti appeared on Vol. 3 with theme from Cagney & Lacey, which always puts me in a happy mood, even though I was no fan of the show (still, with nothing else on TV I watched that as well). Here he returns with the theme from Dynasty, which in retrospect was probably the best thing about that load of drivel.

Anybody who has ever taken an interest in TV themes will know David Portnoy’s voice well: he wrote and sang the theme from Cheers.  TV themes was his thing, it seems. Here he is with the title song of 1980s show Punky Brewster. Portnoy also composed the theme from Mr Belvedere, sung by Leon Redbone.

Some themes are not properly credited (or, in the case of that from The Shield, awkwardly credited). One that doesn’t have a proper credit is of a show with a really good theme, Night Court. Where it appears, it is uncredited, so I’ve given the composer the headliner credit, featuring the saxophonist. Composer Jack Elliott also co-wrote the themes for shows such as Charlie’s Angels (on Vol. 1) and Barney Miller (Vol. 3). Saxophonist Ernie Watts has backed a Who’s Who of jazz; you might have heard him on Marvin Gaye’s LPs Let’s Get It On and I Want You. I don’t know who the bassist was; he certainly deserves a credit, too.

Few themes are sung by their stars, but so it was with the 1980s series The Fall Guy, whose lead, Lee Majors, sang the title song, entitled The Unknown Stuntman. In it, the narrating Stuntman namedrops the stars for whom he has stuntmanned, such as Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood. He also kisses and tells (after telling us that he’s not the type to do that) about his conquests — including Farrah Fawcett, to whom he used to be married in real life. So, old Lee advertising his bedpost notches when he names Sally Fields, Bo Derek, “Jackie” Smith and Cheryl (presumably Ladd)?

I’ve linked already to Volumes 1 and 3 of the extended themes mixes. Volume 2 is still available, of course.

Short versions of TV themes (that is, as you knew them when you saw them on the gogglebox) are gathered together HERE, which also includes a mix of German TV themes.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes hometuned covers. PW in comments.

1. Ray Anthony and his Orchestra – Dragnet Theme (1953, Dragnet)
2. CCS – Whole Lotta Love (1970, Top Of The Pops)
3. Christopher Tyng – Theme of Futurama (2007, Futurama)
4. Michael Kiwanuka – Cold Little Heart (2017, Big Little Lies)
5. Book Of Fears – The Water Let’s You In (2016, Bloodline)
6. Ramin Djawadi – Main Theme of Game Of Thrones (2011, Game Of Thrones)
7. Vivian Ann Romero, Ernesto J. Bautista & Rodney Ale – Just Another Day (2006, The Shield)
8. The Refreshments – Yahoos And Triangles (2009, King Of The Hill)
9. The Rembrandts – I’ll Be There For You (1994, Friends)
10. Paula Cole – I Don’t Want To Wait (1997, Dawson’s Creek)
11. David Schwartz – Theme from Northern Exposure (1992, Northern Exposure)
12. Vonda Shepard – Searchin’ My Soul (1998, Ally McBeal)
13. Dr. John – My Opinionation (1991, Blossom)
14. Joey Scarbury – Believe It Or Not (1981, The Greatest American Hero)
15. Jack Elliott feat. Ernie Watts – Night Court Theme (1984, Night Court)
16. José Feliciano – Chico And The Man (Main Theme) (1974, Chico And The Man)
17. The Mash – Suicide Is Painless (1970, M*A*S*H)
18. Bill Conti – Theme From Dynasty (1982, Dynasty)
19. Jack Jones – Love Boat Theme (1979, The Love Boat)
20. Maureen McGovern – Different Worlds (1979, Angie)
21. Lee Majors – The Unknown Stuntman (1982, The Fall Guy)
22. Thom Pace – Maybe (1977, The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams)
23. Gary Portnoy – Every Time I Turn Around (1984, Punky Brewster)
24. Mike Post & Pete Carpenter – Theme from The A-Team (1983, The A-Team)

GET IT! https://rg.to/file/a30c123c6d993cd5eb18c78b814e0e50/AMTV_4.rar.html

More TV themes stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, TV Themes Tags:

Any Major The Wonder Years

February 6th, 2018 10 comments

Few TV shows ever have so accurately observed the condition of the suburban teenager as The Wonder Years did. One may regard the series, which started its run of six seasons exactly 30 years ago last week (it ran in the US from 31 January 1988 to 12 May 1993), as an exercise in nostalgia. Coming into the middle of a nostalgic  revival that celebrated the 1960s and the beginning of the ’70s, it benefited from fortuitous timing, but as a story of growing up as told by an adult man, the timeframe made perfect sense.

Some may accuse the show of being an apologia for the oppression of nameless bourgeois suburbia, or right-on rhetoric to that effect. Indeed, in the pilot episode the narrator does defend suburban life, arguing that far from being anonymous, suburbia has plenty individual stories to tell. Like that of Kevin Arnold. It may be rose-tintedly nostalgic, it may be middle-class, but it is also profoundly human.

Kevin’s stories are not extraordinary; they are universal, at least for those growing up in similar western middle-class circumstances. Imagine the teen embarrassment at having to take a three-year younger girl to a dance where everybody is a head smaller than you, as Kevin has to in one of my favourite episodes.

 

The Arnold family plus Best-Friend-Paul in The Wonder Years. Who didn’t loath bully brother Wayne?

 

Fred Savage as Kevin was outstanding. The nuances of his body language were as articulate as his delivery of the scripted lines. Daniel Stern narrates as the adult Kevin, and Savage expresses the inner life exposed in the commentary, with a half-smile here or raised eyebrow there. He was wonderfully understated.

And we can recognise the people around him. People much like them existed in our own families or in the circles of our childhood friends. The obnoxious brother Wayne? Know him. Geeky friend Paul? Know him? Grouchy dad Jack? Know him. Kindly mom Norma? Know her. Schoolmate Hobson? Oh dear, yes, I know that son of a bitch too.

I don’t think the female roles are as well realised. Winnie looks like she is going to cry even when she’s full of joy. Nemesis Becky Slater is one-dimensional. Sister Keren too often slides into the realms of caricature. But so does Wayne, even as his obnoxiousness is awesome.

The thing is, we are watching these people exclusively through the filter of Kevin’s memories, with all his biases. So Winnie is soft as a melting marshmallow because that’s how Kevin sees her. Keren is an overcompensating hippie because Kevin remembers her that way. And Mrs Arnold might be sexy, for all we know, but Kevin won’t see her like that, so nor shall we.

 

Kevin Arnold flanked by best pal Paul and marshmallow Winnie.

 

Almost three decades ago, when I first watched The Wonder Years, my empathy resided almost exclusively with Kevin. I was in my mid-twenties, and remembered well being a teenager. Now I have a grown son, and I can identify with the father, too. Well, not entirely. Although Dan Lauria, who played Jack Arnold, was younger than I am now when the show was filmed, he seems to be so much older, at least in my mind (I bet Jack Arnold wouldn’t write blogs about his favourite TV shows). But I can see the father’s point of view better now.

Lauria’s performance was admirably subtle, at least if one looks carefully. There is an almost imperceptible moment in the first season in which Lauria captures the loving father beneath the grumbling gruffness. Kevin and his dad had bonded during a day spent in Jack’s office. Back home at night, Jack lets Kevin look through his telescope. As Kevin looks through the instrument, Jack has his hand on the boy’s shoulder. He gently strokes it with his thumb, as fathers do. It’s a beautiful scene. I somehow grieve Jack’s death, though fictional and post-scripted in the final episode to 1975.

The first four seasons (the first consists of only six episodes) are as good as any half-hour show on TV. By the fourth season, the storylines became more laboured, and by the fifth the steam was beginning to run out. The sixth and final season, in which Kevin suddenly grows up, was one too many.  Still the latter seasons featured the always watchable Giovanni Ribisi (and a more regular future Friends star, David Schwimmer).

In The Wonder Years we were also introduced to Juliet Lewis, as Wayne’s girlfriend, and John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex And The City, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Keren’s libertine hippie boyfriend who gets fiercely interrogated by little Kevin. And Teri from Albuquerque (pictured right), whom Kevin kisses while on holiday in Ocean City in season 3, went on to become porn star Holly Sampson (article here).

Until recently, The Wonder Years was not available on DVD, apparently because of licensing problems with the many songs featured in the show – several repeatedly, such as The Byrds’ Turn Turn Turn, The Temptations’ My Girl, Joni Mitchell’s version of Both Sides Now, Joan Baez’s Forever Young, The Association’s Cherish, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The title song, Joe Cocker’s version of With A Little Help From My Friends, was astutely picked — suitably nostalgic with lyrics that invoke the broad premise of the show (that is, the importance of relationships).

The songs were well chosen — not many TV shows were scored with pop numbers back then. The pedantic music fan will, of course, be mildly irritated when scenes are scored by songs that had not yet been released at the time. But evident care was taken to ensure that songs that featured in a storyline – playing in the background on the radio, perhaps, or being referred to by name – already existed at the time the scenes are set in.

And so on to a mix of songs that featured in The Wonder Years. In brackets are the year of the song’s release, followed by the season and episode number it appeared in. As usual, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers. PW is in the comments section, where I have retained comments to a previous version of this post in 2011.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends (1968 – 4/68)
2. The Beach Boys – When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (1964 – 6/111)
3. The Association – Cherish (1966 – 1/6)
4. Lovin’ Spoonful – Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (1965 – 3/44)
5. Percy Faith Orchestra – Theme from A Summer Place (1960 – 2/23)
6. The Chordettes – Never On A Sunday (1961 – 2/23)
7. Hank Williams – Hey Good Lookin’ (1953 – 4/51)
8. Marty Robbins – A White Sport Coat (1957 – 6/113)
9. Johnny Rivers – Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’) (1977 – 6/105)
10. Jackson Browne – Jamaica Say You Will (1972 – 5/70)
11. Elton John – Seasons (1971 – 3/40)
12. The Spinners – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (1973 – 6/109)
13. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – You’re All I Need To Get By (1967 – 3/37)
14. Fontella Bass – Rescue Me (1965 – 4/58)
15. John Fred & The Playboy Band – Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) (1968 – 5/89)
16. Ronny and the Daytonas – Little G.T.O (1964 – 5/74)
17. Jo Jo Gunne – Run Run Run (1972 – 5/85)
18. Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968 – 2/20 & 3/40)
19. Mott The Hoople – All The Way From Memphis (1973 – 6/106)
20. Johnny Cash & June Carter – If I Were A Carpenter (1970 – 5/73)
21. Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (1968 – 4/68)
22. Joni Mitchell – The Circle Game (1970 – 3/27)
23. Joan Baez – Forever Young (1974 – 4/47 & 5/83)
24. Pachelbel – Canon In D Major (2/13)

GET IT! https://rg.to/file/769d4117d6dc1249c2ba3066bb1962cf/WonYrs.rar.html

More TV themes
More Music from TV Shows
More mixes

Any Major Freaks & Geeks

November 16th, 2017 11 comments

Every two or three years I make a pilgrimage to my set of 18 episodes of the short-lived TV series Freaks And Geeks. It is not only the greatest series ever to be cancelled after only one season, but one of the greatest TV series of all time. Almost every scene is a marvel.

To me, it completes the great American Schools Trilogy: The Wonder Years, Dazed And Confused; Freaks And Geeks. The first outlived its magnificence by about two or three seasons; the Linklater film absolutely needed no sequel; but Freaks And Geeks was put to death prematurely.

All three narratives about schooling succeeded because, though set in US schools with the culture that comes with it, the characters are almost universally recognisable. We’ve all met them, or some of them. Maybe we were them.

I went to school in Germany, where there no high school sports teams, and the sub-cultures were different. We had punks, poppers (New Romantic conservatives), rockers, Neo-Nazi skinheads… and mostly unaffiliated people. Not being much of a joiner I was among the unaffiliated. In Freaks And Geeks terms, I’d have been a “Freak” — though, like the Geeks, I loved Bill Murray and the movie Stripes (I even agree with Neal that the second half of that movie is best forgotten).

But whatever differences in the sub-cultures, I have known Wayne Arnold (who might as well have been modeled on my school nemesis, Marvin) and Paul Phyffer in The Wonder Years, Mitch Kramer and his two pals, Mike Newhouse and Tony Olson, Randall “Pink” Floyd, Fred O’Bannion and Don Dawson (another nemesis) in Dazed And Confused, and Sam Weir, Neal Schweiber, Bill Haverchuck (they were all my friends at some point), Alan White (bullies are all the same), Nick Andopolis and Ken Miller in Freaks And Geeks.

I’m on less safe ground identifying with girls, because if you’re a boy, your school domain is largely male. Still, I know Kim Kelly — the great Busy Philips in Freaks And Geeks —very well.

To me, Freaks And Geeks resonates in particular because in 1980/81, when the show is set, I was 14, the same age as the junior trio of Sam, Bill and Neal. While the cultural markers are different, these characters are my peers.

And so, if we can recognise the characters, or identify with them, then their experiences need not mirror ours exactly for us to be part of the story.

As in The Wonder Years and Dazed And Confused, the music is an important character in Freaks And Geeks (indeed, I did a mix of songs from The Wonder Years a few years ago; the mix has been re-upped). Here I cannot draw from the well of nostalgia. That American 1980/81 is not my 1980/81. And still, of the songs on this mix, which all featured on Freaks And Geeks, I owned six at the time (since you ask: Bowie, Seger, Billy Joel, Deep Purple, Supertramp, Jethro Tull).

As a bonus track I add “Lady L.”, the hackneyed love song Nick (Jason Segel) writes for Lindsay (Linda Cardellini), which has attained something of a cult status. The music-related scene that sticks with me, however, is the one where the Weir parents listen to The Who’s Squeeze Box to determine whether the British band’s concert is suitable for their teenage daughter.

The CD-R length rule required me to omit some worthy contenders; indeed, I expect to be hated for choosing Supertramp ahead of XTC (but I really don’t like No Language In Our Lungs) or Rush (whom I don’t really like, full stop). Maybe there’ll be a follow-up…

As ever, CD-R length, homeworked covers, PW in comments.

1. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Bad Reputation (1981)
2. Joe Jackson – I’m The Man (1979)
3. Warren Zevon – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
4. Bob Seger – You’ll Accompany Me (1980)
5. Little River Band – Reminiscing (1978)
6. Billy Joel – Rosalinda’s Eyes (1978)
7. Kansas – Dust In The Wind (1978)
8. Jethro Tull – Aqualung (1971)
9. George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag (1969)
10. The Who – Squeeze Box (1975)
11. Deep Purple – Hush (1968)
12. Van Halen – Little Dreamer (1978)
13. Journey – Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (1979)
14. Styx – Renegade (1978)
15. David Bowie – Fashion (1980)
16. Supertramp – Take The Long Way (1979)
17. Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia (1979)
18. Pure Prairie League – Amie (1972)
19. Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970)
20. Jason Segal – Lady L. (2000)

GET IT!

More Music from TV Shows
More Mix CD-Rs

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3

March 19th, 2015 7 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3

Here’s a third mix of the full versions of TV themes, some the original songs that were picked up as the title melody, and others extended versions of the short themes.

In the case of the former, there sometimes are incongruities. For example, what does a 1990s grunge song, great though it is, have to do with a TV series set in the 1920s, as we have with The Brian Jonestown Massacre providing the theme for Boardwalk Empire?

I have seen at least one episode of 16 of the featured 24 shows, and of these I have faithfully watched (or, in the case of Better Call Saul, will watch) at least one season in nine cases. How about you?

There will still be a fourth and final mix.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-couchpotatoed covers.

1. Mike Post – Theme from Magnum P.I. (1982)
2. Bill Conti – Theme from Cagney And Lacey (1982)
3. Sammy Davis Jr – Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (Baretta) (1976)
4. Heinz Kiessling – Temptation Sensation (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) (1970s)
5. Jeff Beal – Main Theme of House Of Cards (2013)
6. Dave Porter – Theme from Better Call Saul (2015)
7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Straight Up And Down (Boardwalk Empire)(1996)
8. Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers – This Life (Sons Of Anarchy) (2011)
9. Washed Out – Feel It All Around (Portlandia) (2009)
10. The Scrantones – Theme of The Office (2005)
11. Mike Post – Main Theme of Quantum Leap (1989)
12. Jack Elliott & Allyn Ferguson – Theme from Barney Miller (1975)
13. Tom Scott – Gotcha (Starsky & Hutch) (1977)
14. Lalo Schifrin – Theme from Mission Impossible (1967)
15. Quincy Jones – The Streetbeater (Sanford & Son) (1973)
16. Sonny Curtis – Love Is All Around (The Mary Tyler More Show) (1970)
17. W.G. Snuffy Walden & Stewart Levin – Main Theme from thirtysomething (1991)
18. Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks (1990)
19. James Newton Howard – Theme from E.R. (1994)
20. Triple X – The Truth (X-Files Theme) (1995)
21. PSAPP – Cosy In The Rocket (Grey’s Anatomy) (2005)
22. Bear McCreary – Main Theme from The Walking Dead (2013)
23. The Presidents of the United States of America – Cleveland Rocks (The Drew Carey Show) (1998)
24. Morning Runner – Gone Up In Flames (The Inbetweeners) (2005)

GET IT!

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2
84 Original Length TV Themes
More TV themes stuff

 

Categories: TV Themes Tags:

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2

November 20th, 2014 4 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2

Here’s the second of three mixes of full versions of well-known TV themes, including the highly-rated one for True Detective, and two of the all-time greats, Dragnet and Hawaii Five-O. Especially the latter is fantastic in its full length. And listen out for the theme of S.W.A.T..

Most are well-known, but two themes here are from German TV: from the detective series Derrick, which ran from the 1970s to the ’90s, and the music show Musikladen (née Beat Club), footage of which regularly turns up on VH-1 type shows and on YouTube. Both themes are excellent; the latter was a single from 1966 which was borrowed as a TV theme. The theme of Derrick was written and arranged by Les Humphries, who also was the leader of the Les Humphries Singers, a multi-national, multi-racial bunch of hippie-looking people who were phenomenally successful in Germany in the early 1970s.

A good number of themes here have scored sitcoms, going back to I Love Jeannie. Not all of them were good, and some pretty bad (Growing Pains!). But it occurs to me that even as people are talking about US television experiencing a golden age, it doesn’t really apply to sitcoms, animated shows aside. Some of the current sitcoms were very good when they started, but have outlived their welcome (Big Bang Theory) or have fallen into a rut (Modern Family); some are just awful (Two And A Half Men, for pity’s sake), some are just overrated (Girls). I had hopes for Blackish, alas… So, we’re left with the genuinely good Brooklyn Nine-Nine and… what else?

No, the golden age of the sitcom was the 1990s: Seinfeld, Friends, Murphy Brown, Frasier, Larry Sanders, the first few seasons of Mad About You, or  Married With Children stood out above much of the crap we watched anyway on TV, because we had no broadband Internet and DVD box-sets.

The first mix of full TV themes is HERE.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-couchpotatoed covers.

1. Family Guy – Full Theme Song
2. Valley Lodge – Go (Last Week Tonight With John Oliver)
3. Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar (How To Make It In America)
4. Regina Spektor – You’ve Got Time (Orange Is The New Black)
5. Dave Porter – Breaking Bad Theme
6. The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road (True Detective)
7. Ryan Bingham – Until I’m One With You (The Bridge)
8. Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends (Veronica Mars)
9. Lazlo Bane – Superman (Scrubs)
10. Malvina Reynolds – Little Boxes (Weeds)
11. Frank Sinatra – Love And Marriage (Married With Children)
12. Ray Anthony – Theme from Dragnet
13. Hugo Montenegro – Jeannie (I Dream Of Jeannie)
14. The Monkees – (Theme From) The Monkees
15. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (Musikladen/Beat Club)
16. Orchester Les Humphries – Derrick
17. Morton Stevens – Theme from Hawaii Five-O
18. Ja’net DuBois & Oren Waters – Movin’ On Up (The Jeffersons)
19. Waylon Jennings – Good Ol’ Boys (Dukes Of Hazzard)
20. Andrew Gold – Final Frontier (Mad About You)
21. B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield – As Long As We Got Each Other (Growing Pains)
22. Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams – Without Us (Family Ties)
23. Dave Grusin – St Elsewhere
24. Jack Elliott – Theme from Night Court
25. Rhythm Heritage – Theme from S.W.A.T.

GET IT!

 

More TV Themes
More CD-Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, TV Themes Tags:

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

September 11th, 2014 14 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

TV themes: the great ones are over all too soon. So here’s a mix of full versions of 23 well-known TV themes, stretching from the 1970s to the present —extended versions of many TV themes which I posted exactly a year ago.

It seems that whereas in the past themes used to be written specifically for a show, modern series adopt songs previously released by often obscure artists. Which is great news for the artists, especially commercially. Examples of TV shows whose themes were derived by that method include The Wire (first recorded by Gravelly-Voiced Grinch whose name rhymes with Wom Taite in 1978), The Sopranos (by an English band in 1997),Mad Men (2006), True Blood (2005), Suits (2010) and Shameless (US version, 2005), as well as, I think, that of the great Justified.

This used to be much rarer in the past. One example of a song that was repurposed as a TV theme was Andrew Gold’s 1978 song “Thank You For Being A Friend”, which was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee to score the title credits for The Golden Girls. For more on that, and how Gold’s became to be the first voice to be broadcast on Mars, go to my post on The Golden Girls.

Another song that existed before the series it scores is that of How I Met Your Mother, an initially very funny show which outlived its welcome by about four years. Its theme is very brief. It is, in fact, a 11-second snatch from a song by a garage band called The Solids called “Hey, Beautiful”, written by band members Carter Bays and Craig Thomas — who are also the originators of the show which, what’s more, was based on them and their friends. I’ve written about How I Met Your Mother HERE.

Another show I’ve written about is Welcome Back, Kotter. Its theme is a 1970s archetype, in a way that’s better than it sounds. It was written and performed by John Sebastian, formerly of The Loving Spoonful and an alumnus of the crowd which The Mamas and the Papas sang about in “Creeque Alley”.

I also like the theme of WKRP In Cincinnati, much more than the show itself. The theme doesn’t really reveal the excellent musicianship of the track, so hearing Steve Carlisle’s full version, with its jazzy instrumental break is quite surprising.

I think I have enough good stuff for another two mixes, so there’s the answer to the question: “And where, may I ask, is the best-theme-ever, Dragnet/Hawaii-Five-O/Magnum P.I./Barney Miller/Twin Peaks?”

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-tuned covers. PW in comments.

1. Pratt & McClain – Happy Days
2. Gary Portnoy – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Cheers)
3. Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton – Theme from Hill Street Blues
4. Big George Webley – Handbags And Gladrags (The Office UK)
5. Wom Taits – Way Down In The Hole (The Wire)
6. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (The Sopranos)
7. Gangstagrass – Long Hard Times To Come (Justified)
8. Jace Everett – Bad Things (True Blood)
9. RJD2 – A Beautiful Mine (Mad Men)
10. Ima Robot – Greenback Boogie (Suits)
11. Jane’s Addiction – Superhero (Entourage)
12. The High Strung – The Luck You Got (Shameless US)
13. The Solids – Hey, Beautiful (How I Met Your Mother)
14. They Might Be Giants – Dog On Fire (The Dailly Show)
15. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Bad Reputation (Freaks & Geeks)
16. Hepburn – I Quit (Buffy The Vampyre Slayer)
17. Barenaked Ladies – Big Bang Theory
18. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati
19. John Sebastian – Welcome Back (Kotter)
20. Bob James – Angela (Taxi)
21. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (re-recorded for The Golden Girls)
22. Al Jarreau – Moonlighting
23. Henry Mancini & His Orchestra – Theme from Charlie’s Angels

GET IT!

 

More TV Themes
More CD-Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, TV Themes Tags:

Any Major TV Themes

September 12th, 2013 8 comments

tv_themes

 

As we prepare to say goodbye to two of the finest shows of this new Golden Age of Television, Breaking Bad and Dexter, it seems a good thing to have a TV themes compilation.

On this mix of 84 television themes, most from the US and a few from the UK, I am giving you an overview of my television-watching habits over a lifetime. These themes were not chosen for quality (though many are very good), but because they announced the beginning of a new journey in a succession of one might call appointment TV shows — programmes which I have made it a point to watch, at least for some stages of their run.

Some I persevered with for the duration (such as Hill Street Blues, The Wonder Tears, Seinfeld, The West Wing, Sopranos, Homicide, The Shield, etc), others I followed faithfully before becoming bored with them (such as Desperate Housewives, LA Law, Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm). Some I followed when I didn’t know better, until I did (Dallas, Dynasty).

The most obscure inclusion here might be Kaz, in which Ron Leibman (Rachel’s dad, Friends fans) played an ex-con lawyer. I have no idea if it actually was any good — it lasted only one season — but I watched it faithfully every Friday night when I was in my mid-teens.

Towards the end are the themes of the international shows I loved as a child in Germany in the early ’70s, most of them being shown then as re-runs. My favourite at the time was Bonanza. I’ve not included the themes of my favourite German-language shows, but I’m running them here as separate mix. It does, however, include a few themes from British TV shows. I have also omitted cartoon shows, hence the absence of The Simpsons.

The composers’ names, if I could find them, are in the ID3 Tags. The mix is timed to fit on a CD-R, so it might come in useful as an addition to a trivia night. It includes home-tuned covers. PW in comments.

L.A. Law (1986-94) • Magnum PI (1980-88) • Hill Street Blues (1981-87) • thirtysomething (1987-91) • Night Court (1984-92) •  Cheers (1982-93) • Frasier (1993-2004) • Mad About You (1992-99) • Murphy Brown (1988-98) • Spin City (1996-2002) • Seinfeld (1989-99) • Quantum Leap (1989-93) • Law & Order (1990-2010) • NYPD Blue (1993-2005) • Homicide – Life On The Street (1993-99) •  The Practice (1997-2004) • The West Wing (1999-2006) • The Sopranos (1999-2007) • Six Feet Under (2001-05) • The Shield (2002-08) • The Wire (S4) (2002-08) • Freaks & Geeks (1999) • Veronica Mars (2004-07) • Entourage (2004-11) • Arrested Development (2003-9,13) • Flight Of The Conchords (2007-08) • Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-11) • Desperate Housewives (2004-12) • Prison Break (2005-09) • Justified (2010-  ) • True Blood (2008-  ) • Breaking Bad (2008-13) • Dexter (2006-13) • Mad Men (2007-  ) • The Walking Dead (2010- ) • Lie To Me (2009-11) • Shameless (US) (2011-  ) • Louie (2010-  ) • Everybody Hates Chris (2006-09) • The Big Bang Theory (2007-  ) • Modern Family (2009-  ) • Pushing Daisies (2007-09) • Downton Abbey (2010-  ) • The Office (UK) (2001-03) • The Inbetweeners (UK) (2008-10) • Father Ted (1995-98) • Bottom (1991-95) • Blackadder II (1986) • Blackadder The Third (1987) • Fawlty Towers (1975/79) • Three’s Company (1977-84) • Police Squad (1982) • Sledge Hammer (1986-88) • Just Shoot Me (1997-2003) • Friends (1994-2004) • Wings (1990-97) • The Wonder Years (1988-92) • Wiseguy (1987-90) • Matlock (1986-92) • Moonlighting (1985-89) • Family Ties (1982-89) • Taxi (1978-83) • Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-79) • Soap (1977-81) • Dallas (1978-91) • Dynasty (1981-89) • Family (1976-79) • Kaz (1978-79) • Petrocelli (1974-76) • Streets of San Francisco (1972-77) • The Waltons (1972-81) • The Partridge Family (1970-74) • The Brady Bunch (1969-74) • Riptide (Australia) (1969) • Star Trek (1966-69) • Gunsmoke (1955-75) • Bonanza (1959-73) • The Virginian (1962-71) • Get Smart (1965-70) • Daktari (1966-69) • Tarzan (1966-68) • Flipper (1964-67) • Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo (1966-68) • Lassie (1954-73)

And the listing for the German themes:
Der Kommissar (1968-74) • Derrick (1974-97) • Tatort (1970- ) •  Der Bastian (1973) •  ZDF Hitparade (1969-2000) •  Das aktuelle Sport-Studio (1964- ) •  Sportschau (1962- ) •  Der Grosse Preis (1974-93) •  Dalli (1971-86) •  Die Montagsmaler (1974-79) •  Aktenzeichen XY…Ungelöst (1967-  ) •  Ein Herz und eine Seele (1973-76) •  Pan Tau (1970-78) •  Die Sendung mit der Maus (1971-  ) •  Dick und Doof (1970-73) •  Percy Stuart (1969-72) •  Pippi Langstrumpf (1969-70) •  Sesamstrasse (1973-  ) •  Sandmännchen (West; 70s-80s)

Any Major TV Themes
German TV Themes

*   *   *

More TV Themes

Categories: TV Themes Tags:

TV Themes: The Office (UK)

January 31st, 2013 5 comments

Ricky Gervais is a funny man. His stand-up shows always include a few memorable gags (usually the most outrageous ones, such as the Schindler’s List masturbation story), and his hosting stints of the Golden Globes were triumphal — his introduction of Ashton Kutcher as Bruce Willis’ son might be my second favourite awards show moment ever, after David Niven and the streaker.  Alas, his TV shows have been a tale of diminishing returns, most annoyingly his gratuitous bullying of Karl Pilkington on the horribly titled An Idiot Abroad. His new show, Derek, debuted in Britain last night; perhaps it will arrest the downward spiral.

Gervais is indeed a funny guy. But his masterpiece was predicated on pathos. Gervais’ conception, in script and portrayal, of The Office’s David Brent, an unfunny man who thinks he is funny, was perceptive and nuanced. He kept Brent recognisable and believable, stepping back from the temptation of exaggeration for comedic effect which stains lesser comedies. Brent never becomes a caricature.

In a comedy of embarrassment, Brent’s serial buffoonery was the easy part. But Gervais invested in the character a depth which makes you root for him, almost despite yourself — and you applaud him when he finally tells his “friend” Finchy what one day Pilkington might well tell Gervais.

David Brent earns his staff's approval with his rendition of Free Love Freeway (with Martin Freeman and Mackenzie Crook).

Occasionally Brent surprises by living up to his own hype. In the fourth episode in Season 1, Brent revealed that he once was in a band: Foregone Conclusion, for whom Scottish band Texas opened (but could Texas run a successful branch of a paper merchants?). He fetches his guitar and we expect the worse, squirming in anticipation. It turns out that the song he plays, Free Love Freeway, is rather good. Well, the melody is good. But, in Brent fashion, he undoes all the good work with the most banal lyrics of  sexism (“which I hate”)  to muddled cliché, from “pretty girl on the hood of a Cadillac”  to the incongruously weeping cowboy.

In the 2003 Christmas special, which brings The Office to a conclusion, we learn that after being fired by Wernham Hogg, Brent released a single. Typically, he puts what is good second: Free Love Freeway is the b-side; the a-side is a mediocre cover of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ If You Don’t Know Me By Now. His interpretation is hackneyed, unoriginal and abjectly sung (those ad libs; those groans!), when the relegated b-side is so much better. And the video is hilariously bad (watch it here). In real life, Free Love Freeway received a rehabilitation, of sorts, when Oasis’ goon Noel Gallagher recorded it with Gervais.

Gervais actually started in show business not as a comedian, but as a musician. He was half of the successless but not entirely awful New Romantic duo Seona Dancing, who split after releasing just two singles in 1983, experiencing the dizzy heights of reaching #79 in the UK charts once.

 

The theme of The Office was an instrumental of the song Handbags And Gladrags , arranged by Big George Webley, a session musician and writer of many TV themes, who died at the age of 53 in May 2011.

Big George had previously been the bassist of Paul Young’s Q-Tips. For the sung closing credits version he roped in the singer of a band called Waysted (a lazy pun which Brent would thoroughly enjoy) going by the terminally snappy moniker Fin, who had replaced Young in the Q-Tips. His vocal performance makes this one of my favourite versions of Handbags And Gladrags.

The song, best known in the version by Rod Stewart, was written by former Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo and first recorded by Chris Farlow in 1967 (D’Abo recorded it in 1970).

Two files here: one of stuff from The Office, the other the four songs by Seona Dancing. PW in comments.

THE OFFICE
The Office – Opening Theme
Big George Webley (feat Fin) – Handbags And Gladrags (The Office closing theme)
Ricky Gervais & Noel Gallagher – Free Love Freeway
David Brent – If You Don’t Know Me By Now
Songs from Season 1 Episode 4:
David Brent – Free Love Freeway
David Brent – Starman
David Brent – Goodnight Sweet Princess

GET IT or HERE

The cover of Seona Dancing’s Bitter Heart; Gervais in sailor cap.

SEONA DANCING
Bitter Heart
Tell Her
More To Lose
You’re On My Side

GET IT or HERE

Passwords in the comments section. On the subject, some dick took the trouble to comment that he thinks passwords are for 12-year-olds. The reason for using passwords, in fact, is to protect files from overzealous deletion. Dick said he won’t be back, and my heart is obviously shattered by the knowledge of that, but I’m afraid the passwords must remain, even if they complicate things a little, for you as well as for me.

.

More TV Themes

.

Categories: TV Themes Tags: