At least since the mid-'60s, there has been a dubious but undeniable connection between kids' television and novelty pop songs. With the rise of the Archies in the latter part of the decade, Saturday morning TV became saturated throughout the early '70s with wacky adventures of young-ish hipsters who just happened to be able to break into super-groovy songs at any moment. Producer Ralph Small has capitalized on his self-confessed jones for Saturday morning TV with Saturday Morning Cartoon's Greatest Hits.
What makes this more than just another compilation co-optation is Small's recognition of the mind-melting nature of kids' TV, and the great liner notes. Artist prospective, show/song bios, and an essay from Small make this a truly fun collection. With minimal experimentation or revisionist arrangements, the tunes stick to their mind-numbing, ear-catching simplicity.
Of course it's guaranteed that you'll be singing along, but the faithful pairing of artists and songs makes it extra sweet. Groovy grrls Liz Phair ("The Tra La La Song"), Mary Lou Lord ("Sugar Sugar"), and Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donnelly ("Josie and the Pussycats") spin a rainbow of sonic cotton candy. Matthew Sweet caves into his teen idol fantasies with a dreamy, safely psychedelic "Scooby-Doo Where Are You?." Sponge probes their Motor City roots via Japanamation with "Go Speed Racer Go," and several other acts seem to be channeling their childhood heroes: Butthole Surfers/"Underdog," Helmet/"Gigantor," Ramones/"Spiderman," and Sublime/"Hong Kong Phooey."
While the depth goes about as far as a Scooby Doo plot, this collection is great for parties -- or a Saturday morning hangover.