Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Collection - Hit TV Themes VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-5957 [42:02]




When I opened the package and saw HIT TV Television's Top Themes I thought "Oh no… no…" I mean doing reviewing for fun should mean you actually get some fun out of it. Right?

Taking the 'theme' from the sleeve notes, television themes used to be predictable and formulaic. They often had a catchy tune, sometimes an amusing lyric, memorable only in the most special cases when they were associated with a great show or written by a top composer. Today's TV themes are now drawn from a wide diversity of musical styles from rock to jazz. The intensity of competition for ratings means that a composer has to get to the musical point in 10 seconds or so and this makes this collection remarkable in that sense.

The first track, the theme for Ally McBeal, came as a great surprise. The quality of the band really stands out as something very special. Grant Geissman's lead guitar is tastefully played. Sounding like a Stratocaster with sufficient "crunch" to sustain the notes. The danger here is that the band becomes subsumed to a degree by the familiarity of the tune. No chance with these guys, a great performance, accurate and with great feel. Ally McBeal gives way to Seinfield on track 2 and Ken Wild's stormin' bass lines. The tight syncopation between Ken and Ed Smith on drums really grabs the groove. Again Grant Geissman's strat, excellently played this time in clean jazz mode, shows his first class musicianship. Ken's bass solo is truly inspired.

The next tracks are Law and Order,Caroline in the City, Frasier and Oz. The theme from South Park follows these and is quirky; utilising an odd timing played on brushes with quasi country guitar picking. This actually grew on me I am sad to say! The arrangement of the X-Files theme is interesting and studied - it would be easy to ruin the piece by trying to copy the original but the Band created a memorable performance.

Following the X-files is Mad About You with nice acoustic guitar lead. The ER theme follows this and the mixture of nylon strung guitar and piano works extremely well. The Nanny and Touched By An Angel are next with the theme from Friends following. Grant's lead guitar tone and playing on this track capture a great mood and a 'live' feel. The switch from normal guitar to slide guitar was an excellent choice during this track.

The last track, The Magnificent Seven, was taken at a slower pace than I remember it and probably the one I liked the least. The tune is too traditional to take a more modern treatment, although technically it was fine, it didn't have the punch and attraction of the earlier tracks.

Overall I was amazed at how these TV themes could stand up in their own right as credible pieces of music. The brilliant talent of Grant Geissman shines through and his guitar playing is (as the guitarists say) killer. The band is rock solid with both top class musicianship and accessibility throughout.

I'm glad to have this CD in my collection and my newly acquired square ears will match my square eyes.


Warwick Mason


Warwick Mason

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