It’s a while since I’ve done a theme-music oriented post. This time it’s not from a CD, it’s from an LP, but not any old one, this one is from the 1980, and it’s as far as I can tell, it’s called “BBC Comedy themes”. Now, this record isn’t mine, unfortunately. Instead, it was thrust into my sweaty palms by Andy the Iridium Fan, and span on my turntable for approximately 38 minutes…
01. THE GOODIES THEME – The Goodies (1975, Bradleys, BRADL 1010)
I don’t particularly like this theme. I didn’t really like The Goodies. I was too young for them, and they haven’t been repeated for decades. (Note, hoewever, that they’re getting repeats on BBC2 this month). It’s just one of the tunes with sets of words that grate on me. Not listenable. Sorry.
02. FAWLTY TOWERS – The Dennis Wilson Quartet
There’s no release / catalogue data for this one, so presumably, it was never released “officially”. It’s a happy tune, then dark, then happy, then dark again. Slow. I have a feeling it’s one of those themes where a short piece of music was recorded for the show, then when the show becomes popular, the theme is extended to fill the space on a record. Rather the reverse of library music. If this was a piece of library music, I’d expect a bit more information on the sleeve.
03. THE LIKELY LADS (WHATEVER HAPPENED TO YOU?) – Highly Likely (1973, BBc Records, RESL 10)
These types of “theme” send shivers down my spine, as I absolutely love them. A proper song, written by the writer of the actual series itself. Famed for it’s chorus, “oooh, what happened to you, whatever happened to me, what became of the people, we used to be”.
This theme was remade many years later by the punk rock band “Snuff”, released under the title “Christmas Single”.
04. SOME MOTHER’S DO ‘AVE ‘EM – Ron Grainer (1978, Polydor, 2384.107)
Here’s a fascinating fact for you. Did you know that the theme tune for this show actually spells out “Some Mohters Do Ave Em” in morse code? Apparently, it does. Ronnie Hazelhurst, you absolute, but slightly dead, legend.
This particular track, however, is the perfect example of non-library filler music. According to this recording, the SMDAE theme is 18 seconds long. Unfortunately, after the end of the famous 18-second piccolo intro, the theme is transformed into some ungodly abomination of ‘jazz’, roughly based around the theme, complete with painfully out-of-place glockenspiel.
Originally, it was recorded for the 1978 album “Sixteen Small Screen Greats”. This album is still in existence somewhere, and this is what it looks like.
05. Q. 8. THEME – Spike Milligan + Ed Welch (1979, UNITED ARTISTS, UAG 30223)
I’m totally unfamilar with the show, but am in love with this theme. Ed Welch is one of my heroes. If I could shake his hand, I would. I didn’t even know this was one of his while the record was playing. One day, I’ll do a blog post about Ed Welch. This theme, apparently, is the main theme for the show, left to loop a couple of times, with Mr. Milligan providing some ad-libbing during the theme’s quiet parts.
06. STEPTOE AND SON (Old Ned), The Ron Grainer Orchestra, (1962, Pye 7N 45141)
This is the “famous” version of the theme, meaning that this is the version most likely to turn up if anyone mentions this particular theme. I didn’t realise it was particular recording was so old, but it is – conicidentally, ATIF brought round a Steptoe + Son soundtrack LP from 1962, and it was used on there too.
07. MONTY PYTHON (THE LIBERTY BELL) – The Band of The Welsh Guards (1971 BBC RESL 121)
As far as I know, this could have been the version used on the programme. It is, after all, released on the BBC record label. It’s the full thing though, therefore it doesn’t have the fart noise as the end. Not the same without this.
08. THEME FROM MASH – The Mash (1970, CBS 8536)
Accodring to the sleeve notes, the instrumental version of the theme was never officially released, therefore they’ve resorted to including the version released as a single. Thankfully, they didn’t go with the version listed on the Ronnie Hazelhurst album listed above.
09. DAD’S ARMY (WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING MR. HITLER?) – Bud Flanagan (PYE 7N 17854)
Timed at just over a minute long, yet still one of the most recognisable themes on the album. It was recorded in 1969, and was the last recording from Bud Flanagan before he died. It’s not actually a war song. Play a few seconds of it to anyone, and it’s instantly recognisable. This is the “full” version, with the extra couple of lines worth of lyrics.
10. GOING STRAIGHT – Ronnie Barker (1978, EMI 2768)
The spin-off from Porridge, with its own sotry-telling theme tune. I’ve never seen the show, so not sure how much of it got used in the programme itself. It’s a jolly, rather humorous number. On a separate note, I was asked a quizzical question by someone at work… “what was the show that came after Porrige?” Not only could I give the title, I could sing the theme tune. I believe the personconcerned thought I was rather odd for knowing this, and he’d be right.
11. LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE (1978, POLYDOR 2384.107)
Oh dear. It’s another one from the afore-mentioned Ronnie Hazelhurst album. This is one of the few programmes I can think of, that for each episode, they just re-recorded the theme, along with the incidental music. Here’s an odd question I’m not expecting an answer to… did any other school “sing” this theme around the harvest festival time, as in, someone gave it lyrics? Something about eating bread…
12. THE LIVER BIRDS (ON A MOUNTAIN STANDS A LADY) – The Scaffold (1969 EMI PARLOPHONE 5812)
This particular recording formed the B side of the single “Gin Gan Goolie”, and only reached #38 in the charts. I know of the show, and know that it had the laaa-la-laaaa-laaa bit in it, but after checking youtube, it would appear this isn’t the version used in the programme – it had different lyrics, and a whistly bit at the start. No doubt, though, this was the base of the theme, but this recording is just a song, later adapted for the programme.
13. THE FALL AND RISE OF REGINALD PERRIN (1978 POLYDOR 3284.107)
As the album plays its penultimate track, I must admit to hating the last two themes. This one has the sickening combination of a show I don’t particularly know, awful 70s flutes, hideously twangy guitar, and a catalogue number of 3284.107. Yup, Ronnie Hazelhurst again. Now you may think I don’t like this guy. You’d be wrong, it’s just unfortunate they chose poor recordings for this album. I’m tempted to trawl ebay to see if I can get an original of the album, just to hear how bad the other tracks are.
14. IT AIN’T HALF HOT HOT MUM (MEET THE GANG) (1975 EMI EMC 3074)
By the time the show ended, I wasn’t even 2 years old. I can’t say I remember seeing a complete episode. I do, however, remember the “variety show” opening of the show. It’s the song they used to sing on that. It’s just not great.
So, there we are, 14 tracks. Some good, some bad, some I’d rather carve out of existence. It seems to follow the path of all of the other theme albums I’ve had the chance to listen to.