Blogs Office Smash – Part I

You may have gathered by now that, aside from writing this blog, my other great passions in life are Stockport County, music and films.

I wrote briefly about County in one of my early posts, and it’s fair to say that, aside from a small group of fellow ‘Hatters’ who regularly follow my blog (as if they haven’t suffered enough), it didn’t prove to be hugely popular. Bit like County, really.

Then, towards the end of last year, I wrote a trilogy of entries counting down my favourite albums of the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. Again, these weren’t a massive success, but I said at the outset I would be indulging myself every once in a while, and the countdowns were more to satisfy my own curiosity of what order I would place my favourite albums, than to attract any new followers. Lord knows, I’m not writing this blog for the fame and money (well, not yet).

So, it’s self-indulgence time again, as I’ve decided to do countdowns of my favourite films from the same three decades, starting with the decade I was born – the 1980s.

Loads of great films were released in the ‘80s, and my initial shortlist was well over twenty titles long, but I had to be hard on myself (behave) and restrict the countdown to a top ten. Some entries might come as a surprise, and plenty will be noticeable by their absence – but it’s all relative, and these are my personal favourites.

Last thing – if my choice for best film of the 1980s shocks you, then you really haven’t been paying attention…

10. The Living Daylights (1987)

The Living Daylights

The only Bond film to make my list, but when you consider the other entries into the franchise during the 1980s – For Your Eyes Only (shit), Octopussy (shitter), A View To A Kill (passable, but Grace Jones scares the bejeezus out of me) and Licence To Kill (back to shit again) – the competition wasn’t too intense.

The Living Daylights was a shining beacon in an otherwise dire decade for Bond, which is a shame, because Roger Moore’s opening three outings as 007 during the ‘70s (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me) were all excellent. Of course, Roger can’t be blamed for Licence to Kill, as Timothy Dalton had taken over as Bond by that point, but he certainly needs to shoulder most of the responsibility for the barren spell that Bond suffered during my first decade.

The Living Daylights, however, is superb. By far the better of Dalton’s two offerings, everything about it oozes class. Dalton played 007 in a similar way to Daniel Craig, in that he was cold and had less of the cheese that we now associate with Roger Moore – and, to a lesser extent, Pierce Brosnan.

It’s a brilliant film that, by all accounts, saved Bond from becoming a farce.

9. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones

Easily my favourite of the Indiana Jones series (let’s all pretend Kingdom of the Crystal Skull never happened, shall we?), and that’s not just because Sean Connery is in it.

It’s certainly more ‘family adventure film’ than its two darker predecessors (I won’t be showing Ollie The Temple of Doom any time soon, that’s for sure)*, but this is no bad thing, and some of the comedy injected into the film – particularly the strained father/son relationship between Connery and Ford – is really entertaining.

Action, adventure, stunning locations and a shitload of Nazis. What’s not to like? Well, Nazis obviously, but they’re kind of integral to the plot, bearing in mind much of the film is set in wartime Germany.

*Actually, I’ve just remembered what happens to one of the Nazis at the end of the film when he drinks from the wrong chalice. Maybe I won’t show this film to Ollie just yet either.

8. The Karate Kid (1984)

The Karate Kid

Now, this is one film I have shown to Ollie, and thankfully he enjoyed it as much as I did. Everyone relishes a good underdog story, and I still love watching the final ‘crane’ scene as much as I did growing up.

The inner nerd from my childhood (believe it or not, I wasn’t always the ripped Adonis I have grown into), loves the idea of bullies getting their comeuppance, but some of us weren’t fortunate enough to move far away and become friends with an unusual Japanese man, who would give us chores in order to develop us into the ultimate karate champion on the sly. Some people have all the luck.

Want to feel old? Ralph Macchio, who played the title role, is now 54.

7. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters

Another film I have shown to Ollie – although, in all honesty, I’m not sure why I did, as it’s bloody frightening in parts. Still, he seemed to enjoy it, and hasn’t had any nightmares about it since (which is odd, because he got scared by the ballroom scene in Labyrinth last week, so he’s evidently a wuss).

The combination of Bill Murray (who, frankly, is a genius), Dan Ackroyd and Rick Moranis, is more-or-less a guaranteed formula for a great ‘80s film. If you then throw in Harold Ramis (sadly no longer with us) and Sigourney Weaver (who must have saved them a fortune in scary make-up), it’s no wonder the film was a huge success.

It’s funny, scary, entertaining, thrilling, and has a battle with a giant marshmallow man. Not many films can say that.

6. Innerspace (1987)

Innerspace

This film probably wouldn’t make most people’s lists, but I loved it as a kid and, having watched it again for the first time in years a couple of weeks ago, it hasn’t lost any of it’s magic. It has excitement, comedy, and a great soundtrack. Even Meg Ryan looks uncharacteristically hot.

Best of all, it is one of the few ‘80s films that (touch wood) they are going to leave alone, without making a sequel, spin-off or, even worse, ridiculously over-the-top modern remake. Perhaps that’s because it wouldn’t have the appeal to most people if they did try to re-hash it, but some things are best left alone, and this film is one of them. Brilliant.

5. Aliens (1986)

Aliens

Sadly, this is one film series that they did decide to mess around with, and look what happened. There are now so many spin-offs from the original Alien trilogy, I can’t even name them all. Most seem to revolve around the ‘Alien v Predator’ theme (which is a terrible idea, that has amazingly been reproduced more than once), but even the first film to follow the trilogy, Alien: Resurrection, was woeful, and should have been more than sufficient warning that they shouldn’t fuck around with the series any further.

Notice that I have, however, opted for Aliens, over Alien.  Despite all the post-trilogy films being utter shite, the first sequel, in my opinion, surpasses the original. Ok, purists might argue that it’s more all-out action, as opposed to the wonderfully-chilling suspense of the original, but I happen to like that just a teeny bit more.

Besides, Alien came out in 1979, so it’s ineligible.

4. Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard

The recent passing of Alan Rickman not only took everyone by complete surprise, but it robbed the cinematic world of one of the great British baddies. Ok, not all of the characters he played were evil, but by God could he do ‘megalomaniac’ well. Hans Gruber was menacing, but could be funny at the same time, and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

Die Hard is quite simplistic as far as action films go, but it shows that you don’t need to spend millions on special effects if you have the right story and, more importantly, cast. Ok, Bruce Willis isn’t the best actor in the world, but he, like Rickman, was perfect for the part. Besides, The Matrix is a great film (spoiler alert for the ‘90s countdown), and Keanu Reeves is a truly terrible actor.

Plus, if we forget A Good Day to Die Hard, the remaining sequels were all really good films in their own right too. So long as they don’t try and make another*

*Bollocks. Just checked. They are.

3. Top Secret! (1984)

Top Secret!

If Innerspace wouldn’t feature on most people’s lists, I can’t think of anyone who would include Top Secret! For the uninitiated, this was Val Kilmer’s film debut, and it was directed by the same guys responsible for Airplane! (they liked a film with an exclamation mark, didn’t they?) which gives you some idea of the level of humour you can expect.

If the names of the French Resistance in the film don’t tickle you (Latrine, Chocolate Mousse, Déjà vu – “Have we met before?”), then how about this conversation, when Kilmer’s character, an American Rock ‘n’ Roll singer, is approached by a German waiter in a restaurant:

Nick: “Oh, I’m sorry, I really don’t know any German.

Hilary: “That’s ok, I know a little German….. He’s sitting over there.

The film then cuts to a vertically challenged man in lederhosen, who is waving at them. That, my friends, is comedy genius.

I remember Top Secret! being on TV during my first year at university, and I persuaded loads of friends to watch it with me. By the end of the film, everyone had wandered off, except for one girl who enjoyed it and stayed to the end. So I married her.

2. Return of The Jedi (1983)

Return Of The Jedi

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t care what the critics and so-called ‘experts’ think, The Empire Strikes Back isn’t the best Star Wars film, this is.

It has all the best bits of its two predecessors – the destruction of the ‘Death Star’ from A New Hope, mixed with the sinister ‘dark side’ elements of The Empire Strikes Back – but it has so much more besides: Jabba; Luke growing from whining little brat into fully-fledged Jedi; Ewoks; Darth turning good again; Han realising that Luke and Leia are siblings (and then clearly recalling them kissing at the start of Empire – as we all did); but above all else it has the greatest costume decision in cinematic history – Leia’s gold bikini.

Everything about this film is fantastic. To be honest, they could have stuck Jar Jar Binks in it, and I would still love it.

Ok, maybe not.

1. Back To The Future (1985)

Back to the Future

No surprises here then. The fact that my favourite film of all time (not just the ‘80s) is Back To The Future, is the second thing people learn about me, once I have told them which football team I support.

From start to finish, there isn’t one thing I would change about this film. The soundtrack – which ranges from 1950s classics such as ‘Earth Angel’ and ‘Johnny B. Goode’, to Alan Silvestri’s edge-of-your-seat composition – is the perfect accompaniment to the perfect film.

I could re-watch this film every week, for the rest of my life, and not tire of it. The first time Ollie watched it, which was last year, he got so excited and tense at the scene where Marty races down the road in time to be struck by lightning and sent back to 1985, that he got quite upset – first with the fear that Marty might not make it, and then with relief and joy that he did.

The very fact that he was loving it, and clearly had the same goosebumps I still get watching that scene, brought a tear to my eye. That father/son moment actually topped the first time Ollie watched The Empire Strikes Back, and sat there with his mouth open following Darth’s “I am your father” revelation.

If any film producers out there so much as suggest re-making this film, or attempting Back To The Future IV, I will personally hunt them down and kill them. There, it’s in writing now. You have been warned.

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And there you have it – an obvious conclusion to what was, hopefully, a less obvious countdown.

Back to being grumpy next week.

 

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Don’t Stop Bloggin’

It should be clear, from some of my previous entries, that I love music.

Not all music, obviously. Rap is mostly dreadful, I’m not that keen on reggae, dance music (and all its many ridiculous variations) is almost entirely crap, and the less said about the likes of Queen and Abba the better. But generally, yeah, I like my tunes.

I love nothing more than getting a new CD or download, seeing a band live, discovering artists I had not previously heard of, re-discovering forgotten albums, and making my own playlists for the car.

This got me thinking about which of the three decades that I have lived through has produced the best music, and so I decided to come up with my top 10 albums from each decade – starting with the 1980s. I have to say, I was pretty surprised by the results.

As with the Bond films countdown a few months ago, this is my personal selection, and is by no means intended to reflect the greatest albums of the decade. I know some of my choices would not feature in most people’s lists, and would be even less likely to crop up in one of those pompous music magazines, but each and every one of them is special to me for a reason.

That’s why I love music. I can barely remember what I did last week, let alone years ago, but nearly every album I own will stir a specific memory. So much so, I could probably tell you where I bought each and every one of the hundreds of CDs I have in my collection. Six by Mansun? Music Zone in Stockport (listened to a few tracks first, on those free headphones they used to have, before paying £10 for it and getting ridiculed by my mates). Pablo Honey by Radiohead? Got that in a ‘3 for £20’ deal at Our Price in Oxford, during a Sixth Form day trip to the University… You get the idea.

You don’t get these kinds of memories with downloads though, which is why I will always prefer CDs. It’s not quite the same to fondly recall purchasing a download: “Oh yeah, I remember where I was when I downloaded that…. at home, drunk, in my pants.”

Anyway, for each of my selections, I will not only explain why I love the album so much, but will try to justify it with a personal memory, and reveal my favourite song. This may be extremely self-indulgent of me (and boring for you) but, well, fuck it.

10. Thriller (Michael Jackson – 1982)

Thriller

Ok, so as soon as I’ve explained that some of my choices are a little random, I’ve immediately included the biggest selling album of all time. However, it’s not my favourite Jackson release, as you will see shortly, and some of the slower tracks (such as Baby Be Mine and The Girl Is Mine), are bloody awful, so it’s not getting any higher than tenth place.

Memory: Watching the brilliantly-choreographed Thriller video and, despite being young at the time, I was not even remotely scared by it. In fact, the only creepy thing in the whole film is a pre-werewolf Michael trying to ‘romance’ that poor girl. The signs were there, that’s all I’m saying.

Best song: Beat It

9. So (Peter Gabriel – 1986)

So

If this album was any more 1980s, it would have a mullet. I’m not even a big Peter Gabriel fan, and this is the only album of his that I own, but it’s a belter. Even having Kate Bush on Don’t Give Up hasn’t ruined it. There are some tracks I’m not as keen on, but Sledgehammer (and it’s fantastically bizarre Python-esque video) more than makes up for that.

Memory: Singing Sledgehammer in the car just to annoy my wife, and getting louder and more exuberant with each protest.

Best song: Erm… Sledgehammer

8. Permanent Vacation (Aerosmith – 1987)

Aerosmith_-_Permanent_Vacation

Aerosmith will always be special to me, as they were the first band I ever saw live, way back in 1997 when it was still the Nynex Arena in Manchester. Well, technically the first band I saw live were Shed Seven, Aerosmith’s odd choice of support act for the evening, but you know what I mean. Permanent Vacation represents the re-birth of Aerosmith, following years of drug-fuelled albums which were largely dreadful, and this was the first release of theirs that I actually liked.

Memory: Playing Championship Manager ’93 in my room, and listening to this album on repeat.

Best song: The title track, Permanent Vacation (still the only song I own with steel drums in it)

7. Bad (Michael Jackson – 1987)

Michael_Jackson_-_Bad

I am almost certainly alone in my opinion that Bad is superior to Thriller, and most music journalists would have a fit when faced with such a statement, but I have never been one to follow general consensus (I don’t care what anyone says, Jedi is better than Empire, and the drummer was the hottest sister in The Corrs). Anyway, not only does Bad include my favourite Jackson song of all time, but more importantly it was released when I was seven (compared to Thriller coming out when I was two), so it had more of an impact on my musical upbringing.

Memory: Watching Moonwalker and wondering why Michael Jackson was talking to an animated rabbit on a motorbike, before being amazed by the dancing in Smooth Criminal.

Best song: The Way You Make Me Feel

6. The Stone Roses (The Stone Roses – 1989)

Stoneroses

Strangely, although this album was released in the (admittedly rather late) 1980s, it has a distinctly ‘90s sound to it, and more or less set the scene for the Britpop bands which followed. But, even though we can largely blame The Stone Roses for the likes of Oasis (I don’t actually mind some of their music, but the Gallagher brothers – and Liam in particular – are the most odious morons to ever grace the music scene, and I’m not just saying that because they are City fans), I really like this album.

Memory: Sitting in my friend’s lounge with some mates from school, drinking Fosters (it was acceptable back then) and playing She Bangs The Drums on his parents new stereo system. We then got a Chinese takeaway and watched Goldeneye – which is about as good as an evening gets.

Best song: I Wanna Be Adored

5. Green (REM – 1988)

R_E_M__-_Green

This is by no means my favourite REM album, but is certainly my preferred choice from those released in the 1980s. Green was REM’s first album since signing to Warner Bros. Records, and whilst I do like the stuff that preceded it, I much prefer everything they released from this album onwards.

Memory: Air-drumming like a lunatic to Orange Crush whilst at school

Best song: Orange Crush

4. Taking On The World (Gun – 1989)

gun-totw_600

This is perhaps where my list takes a more obscure turn. It was actually Gun’s second release, Gallus (released in the 1990s, hence its absence here), which I heard first and fell in love with, but I then went back and picked up a copy of this debut album and instantly liked it too. Sadly, Gun released three very good albums, before deciding to adopt an unusual rock/pop/dance-fusion approach to their fourth release, and it was utterly shit.

Memory: Discovering a rare EP in the small music store that used to be above the carpet shop in Poynton. It has a version of Inside Out from this album, mixed with a cover of So Lonely by the Police.

Best song: Money (Everybody Loves Her)

3. When The World Knows Your Name (Deacon Blue – 1989)

220px-DBWhenTheWorld

Despite being released in the same year as The Stone Roses, which has a very ‘90s sound, this album is firmly fixed in the ‘80s, and I love it. I only own three Deacon Blue albums (well, two plus the excellent, if poorly titled, The Very Best Of Deacon Blue), but this was the first CD I purchased of theirs, and could happily play it all day.

Memory: Testing out my new wireless headphones a few years ago, wandering around the house with Queen Of The New Year playing at potentially ear-damaging volume.

Best song: Love And Regret

2. Hysteria (Def Leppard – 1987)

untitled

Those who know me, will not be surprised that Def Leppard have made their way onto the list. This 1987 album spawned seven hit singles, and came slap-bang in the middle of a traumatic time for the band – it was released three years after the drummer lost an arm in a motorcycle accident, and four years before guitarist Steve Clark died of an overdose. Tragedy aside, it’s a cracking album.

Memory: Playing it over and over whilst revising for my GCSEs at my Nan and Grandad’s house.

Best song: Hysteria

1. Man Of Colours (Icehouse – 1987)

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This album, quite simply, is my childhood. Few people outside of Australia – and certainly those of my age or younger – have even heard of Icehouse, but I grew up listening to this album on family holidays to Wales, and remember loving it despite being very young at the time. This is ‘80s pop-rock at its very finest, and remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Memory: Aside from those family holidays, two other memories stand out – both from my days at university. I vividly remember discovering this album from my childhood, for just £6 at the indoor market in Lancaster, and being the most excited I have ever been to purchase a CD and dash home to play it. Then, the following year, I overheard Crazy from this album being played in B&Q, which was extremely random, but it made my day.

Best song: Crazy

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I said at the outset that I was surprised by the results of this top 10. What has struck me is that, with the exception of Man of Colours, I wouldn’t consider any of these albums to be among my all time favourites. In fact, they wouldn’t even make my Top 20. I like them all, obviously, but not anywhere near as much as others in my collection.

It’s not that I necessarily prefer the music of the ‘90s or ‘00s either, as I still consider myself a big fan of the ‘80s, so the only explanation is that I like a number of songs from that decade, without necessarily owning albums by those artists.  I can quite easily list twenty songs from the 1980s that I absolutely love, without either owning an album by that artist, or liking it enough for it to beat any of the other ten in my countdown:

  1. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary (1985)
  2. Hall & Oates – Out of Touch (1984)
  3. Dire Straits – Walk of Life (1985)
  4. Don Henley – The Boys of Summer (1984)
  5. Go West – We Close Our Eyes (1985)
  6. Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988)
  7. The Housemartins – Happy Hour (1986)
  8. Huey Lewis And The News – The Power of Love (1985) – from the greatest film ever
  9. Genesis – Invisible Touch (1986)
  10. New Order – True Faith (1987)
  11. Prefab Sprout – The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1988)
  12. Roachford – Cuddly Toy (1988)
  13. Starship – We Built This City (1985)
  14. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again (1982)
  15. Bananarama – Cruel Summer (1983)
  16. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al (1986)
  17. The La’s – There She Goes (1988)
  18. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ (1981)
  19. Toto – Africa (1982)
  20. Madness – Wings Of A Dove (1983)

And that’s just off the top of my head (well, the dates weren’t), so there are bound to be many more. Anyway, I shall leave you with this 1980s/Daily Mail themed joke:

Bloody Foreigner, coming over here, demanding to know what love is.

(Ooh, I’ve just spotted the word count: 1987)

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Blogtanian And The Three Muskehounds

I’m afraid this is another self-indulgent blog entry, so please bear with me.

If, like me, you grew up in the 1980s, or you are old enough to have children that did, I hope to take you on a trip down nostalgia lane, stirring warm fuzzy memories in your soul like reminiscent Ready Brek. If, however, you are older than 45 and childless (lucky sod), or younger than 25 (luckier sod), then you may struggle to relate to what follows. Nevertheless, I shall proceed regardless, and hope that I don’t alienate too many of my readers.

My wife and I were born almost equidistantly from the start of the 1980s – I arrived in early February 1980, and she popped out at the end of November 1979, so we were both just a little more than 5 weeks either side of this wonderful decade commencing. As a result, we did most of our growing up, albeit 200 miles apart, in the decade that brought us mullets, shell suits, and black Michael Jackson. It was a simpler, happier time, especially for any children who were yet to visit the Neverland ranch for a sleep-over (allegedly).

Ok, so the hair and fashion of the ‘80s were questionable (and I think we even knew this at the time, so there really was no excuse), but the music, television and films were often outstanding – I don’t care what anyone else says, Back To The Future is still the greatest film ever made.

And what better way to combine television and music, than with a great theme tune? In the 1980s, fantastic theme tunes were aplenty, and never more so than in the world of cartoons. When I tried, recently, to think of all the good cartoon theme tunes we had growing up during the ‘80s, I began to lose count, and a cursory glance into the dark world of Google and Youtube only widened the list.

I could just list all the great cartoon theme tunes that I remember from my formative years, but that would be too easy, and we’d still be here many hours later. So, as with my recent ranking of all the James Bond films, I’ve decided to provide a countdown of my favourite cartoon theme tunes from childhood. Despite there being loads of them, I have just about managed to limit the countdown to a top 10, but that does mean there will unfortunately be some notable omissions.

For example, any child of the 1980s will, when asked to name great cartoon themes of the era, almost undoubtedly proffer The Mysterious Cities of Gold at some point, and I therefore anticipated it being one of the first titles on my list. Unfortunately, having just re-visited the opening credits of this (frankly, very boring) cartoon, it turns out that our collective recollection of the standard of the theme tune, is wholly misguided. Go and check it out on Youtube now. Go on, I can wait….

…See? Terrible, isn’t it? I can only assume that there was subliminal mind control hidden somewhere in the show, because it is abundantly clear to me now, that both the show and the theme tune were truly awful. As such, it’s not going anywhere near my list.

Also, I’m being quite strict on keeping my countdown within the world of cartoons only. Fraggle Rock, for example, had a superb theme tune, but it wasn’t a cartoon. Then, there were ‘80s shows that couldn’t even pretend to be cartoons, like Round the Twist, Saved By The Bell, and the little known Pugwall’s Summer. Sure, they all had great intros, but they are immediately disqualified on account of not being even remotely cartoon-like.  Perhaps I’ll do a different run-down of those another time.

But even restricting the list to purely cartoons, there are still going to be some great ones missing, so apologies if your personal favourite didn’t make the cut. Still, this is my blog, and my list, so tough. Get your own blog if you don’t like it.

  1. Pigeon Street

Pigeon Street is perhaps not the first cartoon that you would think of if you were compiling your own list, but the opening credits hold many happy childhood memories for me, and it was most likely the first cartoon I ever really watched properly. In fact, like all iconic shows, it was cut tragically short after just thirteen episodes, all of which aired in 1981 (before countless repeats were shown), so it really was the Fawlty Towers of its day. Only with considerably less comedy, a long-distance lorry driver called Clara, and a shit-load more pigeons. In fact, it shows how dear I hold this cartoon to my heart, because I bloody hate pigeons and it still made the list.

  1. The Raggy Dolls

Again, perhaps not a cartoon that would immediately spring to mind, but it ran for eight years and, if this were a countdown of the shows with the best intentions, The Raggy Dolls would win hands down. Quite admirably, it was intended to teach kids about tolerance, acceptance, and love towards those with physical disability, via the medium of a group of imperfect dolls that had been discarded. Prior to searching YouTube for the introduction, I honestly couldn’t name any of the characters bar the loveable ‘Sad Sack’, but I could still sing you the whole theme tune. Because it’s brilliant.

  1. Danger Mouse

Now, unlike The Mysterious Cities of Gold, this actually was a great show, but have you watched it back recently? I’m not entirely sure what Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall were smoking during the 1980s, but I suspect it was highly illegal, because some scenes in Danger Mouse were really messed up. And I don’t mean ‘just a little weird’, either; I mean ‘pink elephants on parade’ weird (you know, that scene in Dumbo), in that you probably shouldn’t watch it if you are alone and have been drinking, because it will freak you out. Still, this countdown is all about great theme tunes, and Danger Mouse had a corker.

Oh, and let’s clear this up once and for all – Penfold was a hamster.

  1. Count Duckula

Continuing with Cosgrove Hall and their apparent recreational drug use, one of the more obscure episodes of Danger Mouse featured a vegetarian vampire duck called Count Duckula. No, really. Such was the popularity of this minor character, he was granted his own spin off show in 1988, starring alongside his equally weird servants, Igor and Nanny (the latter surely being based on ‘Nursie’ from Blackadder II). As with Danger Mouse (and the BFG for that matter), this was David Jason at his voiceover best, and the theme tune is just fantastic.

  1. Inspector Gadget

Another cartoon where I’ll wager any child of the 80s could recollect and sing the theme tune with comparative ease.  It’s like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, in that we all just know it. As with Danger Mouse, obvious comparisons could be drawn between this series (Inspector Gadget, not Fresh Prince) and the Bond films, which is presumably why I liked it so much. You cannot help but sympathise with the bumbling title character, despite his questionable parenting skills and the fact that his neglected daughter and their pet dog do all the sodding work. Still, it’s a great theme song.

  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Ah, the first (and I suspect only) title on my list, where my 5-year-old son will agree with me. I have to say, I really like the introductory rap for the latest Nickleodeon version of Turtles too, but the theme tune to the ‘80s version is utterly brilliant, and again I could still remember all the words when recently introducing young Ollie to his favourite show’s predecessor. Like with Girls Aloud (and the Spice Girls before them come to think of it), everyone has their ‘order’ of favouritism when discussing TMNT, except with the Turtles, it is actually the orange one that I like best.

  1. Thundercats

Yes. Just… yes. Pay attention Lloyd-Webber: if you’re going to make a show about a load of cats who can talk, this is how you do it. Plus, I don’t know a single person who fancies Grizabella or Bombalurina (thanks, Google), but show me a man between the ages of 25-45 who doesn’t look at Cheetara and still utter a low, guttural, phwoar, and I will show you a liar.

Fortunately, the theme tune is every bit as good as the cartoon which followed it, even if the lyrics (on reflection) are woeful.

  1. Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds

Can you imagine a situation where the Japanese and Spanish work together, to turn a 19th Century French story (actually set in the 17th Century) into a cartoon about dogs? No? Well you can now. Everything about that opening sentence screams unmitigated disaster, but somehow this show was a success, and rightly so because it’s actually very good. The Japanese-Spaniard (Japaniard or Spanese?) partnership of Nippon (chortle) Animation, worked really well, and even better, they left the theme tune responsibilities to the Japanese – with a translation into English. I don’t think there has ever been a musical collaboration between these two nations, but I cannot imagine it would be anything other than horrendous.

Oh, and just to clarify, I do genuinely rate this as one of my favourite childhood theme tunes, it wasn’t just a cheap way to shoehorn in the title for this blog entry.

  1. Duck Tales

If someone approaches you and sings “Duck Tales” in your general direction, and you do not immediately feel the urge to respond with a “Woo-hoo!”, then there is something seriously wrong with you. Actually, if someone does do that, and you don’t know them, there is clearly something seriously wrong with them too, but you get the idea. This theme tune is catchier than syphilis and a helluva lot more fun (I imagine). It’s only because my favourite cartoon theme tune of all time is pop perfection, that Duck Tales is kept from the top spot.

Oh, and remember kids, don’t dive into a big room full of coins, as you WILL hurt yourself. Either change them into ‘folding’ money to soften the impact, or better still invest your savings into a financial institution. No one likes a show-off when it comes to money. Besides, surely that room could be put to better use? I might be over-thinking this.

  1. The Raccoons

Now, I’m cheating ever-so-slightly with my winner, because the music I refer to is actually over the end credits of this cartoon, rather than at the start, but “Run With Us” by Lisa Lougheed is not only an outstanding theme tune (and the one that everyone would associate with The Raccoons anyway), it’s just a great 80s song full-stop. I want it as my ringtone, so that when people phone me and I’m in public, men will want to be me, and women will want to be with me. If a woman hears “Run With Us” playing from a man’s phone, it’s like catnip to her, and she will immediately begin undressing. Such is the power of this track.

80s theme-tune brilliance, attached to an otherwise average cartoon about some highly questionable talking rodents and their pink-aardvark nemesis who, to be quite frank, has a nose that looks like a wonky penis.

So, there you have it.

In compiling this list, I have learned two important lessons. Firstly, they don’t make cartoon theme tunes like they used to (and I have two young boys, so I should know), which makes me sad. Secondly, and more importantly, I can apparently embed YouTube clips into my blog, which makes me very happy indeed. It’s not so much that it can be done, you understand, more that I managed to do it, without crying uncontrollably and asking for help.

Lastly, I have also discovered, with some dismay, that when it comes to cartoon theme tunes, my wife is an idiot. Not only did she berate me for including Pigeon Street in my countdown, but she’s apoplectic that I omitted The Mysterious Cities of Gold. In fact, to try and prove her point, she then insisted on singing the entire drab theme tune from memory, but this only made me dislike her more.

Don’t be surprised if the next entry is about our impending divorce.

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