It may simply be that analog-to-digital transfer quality has gotten that much better, but the sound on Tee Vee Tunes' latest round of vintage television themes is improved over the earlier volumes. This disc ranges across the decades, from the end of the 1940s to the mid-1960s, over numerous styles and genres, from kids' Westerns (Hopalong Cassidy) to their adult successors (Stan Jones' Cheyenne theme), kid shows (Kukla, Fran & Ollie), cartoon shows (Quick Draw McGraw, Wally Gator, The Mighty Hercules, Astro Boy, Roger Ramjet) through medical dramas (Dr. Kildare), crime shows (The Untouchables, Burke's Law, M-Squad, Checkmate), thrillers (The Fugitive) to live variety and comedy (The Red Skelton Show). There is a chance to see the early work of a few now well-known composers, such as John (aka Johnny) Williams's intense, twisting theme to Checkmate, and all but forgotten weirdness like the theme from The Soupy Sales Show. Not nearly all of what is here is terribly good, even as television theme music -- Alexander Lazlo's eerily dancing, manic theme to My Little Margie may have its oddball appeal; the music from Karen is notable as one of the first attempts to put a rock & roll theme across as the title music (played and sung by no less than the Beach Boys); and the theme for The Everglades is a funny piece of calypso-flavored music for television; but the music from Father Knows Best is worthwhile only for its familiarity. The notes have a few misspellings and errors of fact, but the writing credits hold some surprises, like the fact that Jimmie Rodgers ("Honeycomb") sang, and Tin Pan Alley veteran Harry Ruby wrote, the theme for The Real McCoys (work is work, wherever you get it). Anyone looking for the original first season theme from Gunsmoke need go no further (though they should also check out Tex Ritter's sung version on Bear Family's High Noon disc. If you grew up between 1951 and 1965, and saw any of this stuff in its original runs or reruns, it's all worthwhile, although anyone who doesn't know classic television may feel like they've been consigned to a special circle of hell when they listen to this.
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