De Wolfe Music is one of the U.K.'s leading production music houses, creating music that can be leased for use in motion pictures, television, and radio, and more than a few of the melodies composed and recorded for De Wolfe were used in noted British television shows. Top Dog: A Retrospective of Classic TV & Radio Themes 1960-1982 collects 26 tracks from the De Wolfe archives that will be familiar to folks who watched a lot of television in the U.K. in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. For folks whose aerials didn't pull in the BBC or Thames, this won't have the same nostalgic appeal, but De Wolfe's recording of John Philip Sousa's "Liberty Bell March," better known as the theme music for Monty Python's Flying Circus, is included here, as is "The Gonk," which in Great Britain was known as the music from Seeing and Doing, but horror film buffs will know it as the curious bit of Muzak playing at the shopping mall in Gorge A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Not much of what appears on Top Dog is startling or revelatory to folks who don't know the more familiar contexts for these numbers, but "Roobarb" and "Henry's Cat" are admirably off-kilter pieces created for children's shows, "The Merry Ocarina" is a witty and deadpan number featuring the titular instrument, "Precinct" aims for a funky, urban sound and just about hits the target, and "Left Bank Two" could pass for jazz in dim light. The craft of the songwriting, production, and performances is top-notch throughout, and even if you don't know the music or the television shows, this music generates an appealing and entertaining retro vibe, as if this is what would be heard coming from the TV in your space age bachelor pad.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming