Various Artists - Top Dog: classic TV and radio themes 1960-1982

With the brief fad for lounge and/or easy music having faded like a flower on the lapel on Mike Flowers' velvet jacket, the scene archaeology nevertheless continues in earnest with this superlative collective of theme tunes and music cues likely to awaken all kinds of memories for those of a certain age. The De Wolfe archive has long been acknowledged as one of the premiere sources for British soundtracks, recently celebrating a 100 year history of providing the tunes that accompany the pictures. Top Dog is the fourth in a series of discs that bring together the famous (Sousa's 'Liberty Bell' from Monty Python ...), the hilariously groovy (Never The Twain, the Donald Sinden/Windsor Davies vehicle) to material that even the most hardened gogglebox addict will struggle to recall (Queenie's Castle was a short-lived sit-com starring Diana Dors apparently).

Many of these cues are incredibly evocative, certainly for anyone over the age of 35 or so: the closing music for afternoon courtroom drama Crown Court more than illustrating the 25 minutes of minor human tragedy that had preceded; the wonky bounce of Roobarb soundtracking numberless meals of crispy pancakes and beans just before Mum and Dad settled down to the evening news. Modern TV, with its overreliance on bland musical atmosphere and Hard-Fi album tracks offers little competition for the clever, and often genre mangling, arrangements here. Never again would quite so many flutes, harpischords and xylophones be employed in such manic fashion. The 42 seconds of rinky-dink piano and wah-wah guitar tell you everything you need to know about George & Mildred; the delightful music hall melody of Herbert Chappell's 'The Gonk' worthy of a classic Disney feature.

Lastly, a word about the sound quality. Newly remastered from the original tapes, this disc sounds fantastic with an astonishing seperation and clarity, leaving today's recordings sounding harsh, mechanical and, frankly, monotonous in comparison. The dog's bollocks.



out of 10

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