Here’s the story behind Rhino’s Toon Tunes CD series, the first series to combine such a large number of cartoon soundtrack themes on single albums.
50 Favorite Cartoon Theme Songs
TV Marketed Version (Bubble Cover): R-Kive Music / Rhino Records R2-72528 (Two Compact Discs / Mono & Stereo / 1996)
Reissue (Hammer Head Cover): Rhino Records R2-72752 (One Compact Disc / Mono & Stereo / 1997)
Producers: Greg Ehrbar, Earl Kress. Remastering: Bob Fisher, Rae DiLeo at Digital Domain. Illustration: Steve Vance. Design: Lisa Sutton. Cover Concept: Hugh Brown. Running Time: 58 minutes.
Cartoons & Songs
• Popeye the Sailor: “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man” (Sammy Lerner) – Billy Costello
• Tom and Jerry: MGM Theatrical Opening (Scott Bradley) – MGM Orchestra
• Woody Woodpecker: Lantz Theatrical Opening (George Tibbles/Ramsey Idriss) – Mel Blanc, Grace Stafford
• Mighty Mouse*: Theme Song (Marshall Barer/Phil Scheib) – Roy Halee, Mitch Miller and The Sandpipers (Ralph Nyland, Bob Miller, Mike Stewart, Dick Byron)
• Casper the Friendly Ghost*: Theme Song (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) – Peter Pan Players
• Howdy Doody Time*: “It’s Howdy Doody Time” (Traditional/Bob Smith/Edward Kean) – Pickwick Children’s Chorus with Music by “Bugs” Bower
• Ruff and Reddy: Main Title, Sub-Main Title (Bill Hanna/Joe Barbera)
• Huckleberry Hound: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Hoyt Curtin/Charles Shows) – Randy Van Horne Singers
• Quick Draw McGraw: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin) – Randy Van Horne Singers
• Fractured Fairy Tales: Theme (Fred Steiner)
• Peabody’s Improbable History: Theme (Steiner)
• The Flintstones: “Meet the Flintstones” (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin)
• Felix the Cat: Theme (Winston Sharples) – Ann Bennett
• Yogi Bear: Theme (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin/Shows)
• Snagglepuss: Syndicated Titles with Sub-Main & End Titles (Hanna/Barbera)
• The Bullwinkle Show (Steiner)
• Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties (Steiner)
• The Alvin Show: Theme (Ross Bagdasarian) – The Johnny Mann Singers
• The Beany and Cecil Show: Theme (Bob Clampett/Sody Clampett) – Jim MacGeorge, Irv Shoemaker
• Wally Gator: Main Title with Sub-Main & End Titles (Hanna/Barbera)
• Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har: Main Title with Sub-Main & End Titles (Hanna/Barbera)
• The Jetsons: 1962 Stereo Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin) – Randy Van Horne Singers
• Top Cat: Stereo Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Evelyn Timmens)
• Magilla Gorilla: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera)
• Jonny Quest: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin)
• Underdog: Song (Buck Biggers/Treadwell Covington/Chet Stover/Joe Harris)
• The Pink Panther: Movie Main Title (Henry Mancini) – Henry Mancini Orchestra
• Peanuts: Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
• Gigantor: Main Title (Louis C. Singer/Eugene Raskin)
• Space Ghost: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera)
• The New Adventures of Superman (Filmation): Main Title (John Gart)
• The Atom Ant Show: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera)
• The Secret Squirrel Show: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera)
• George of the Jungle (Sheldon Allman/Stan Worth)
• Super Chicken (Allman/Worth)
• Spiderman (1967) (Robert J. Harris/Francis Webster)
• Speed Racer (Peter Fernandez/Nobuyoshi Koshibe)
• The Banana Splits Adventure Hour: Main Title (Richie Adams/Mark Barkan)
• Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines (“Stop That Pigeon”) (Hanna/Barbera)
• Josie and the Pussycats: Main Title (Hoyt Curtin/Joseph Roland/Denby Williams)
• Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin)
• The New Scooby-Doo Movies: Main Title (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin)
• Schoolhouse Rock: Conjunction Junction (Bob Dorough) – Jack Sheldon
• The Simpsons: Theme (Danny Elfman)
• Captain Planet: End Title (Boxer/McFadden/Michaels/Mulholland)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Theme (Chuck Lorre/Dennis C. Brown)
• Rugrats (Hannigan)
• The Ren & Stimpy Show: Dog Pound Hop (Ricciardi/Smith/Huml/Krisfaluci)
• Animaniacs (Richard Stone/Tom Ruegger)
• Merrie Melodies Closing Theme*: That’s All Folks (Charles Tobias/Murray Mencher/Eddie Cantor)
Before anything else, it must be noted that Earl Kress is responsible for all the Hanna-Barbera material on the Toon Tunes series discs. He produced Rhino’s Hanna-Barbera Classics, Pic-A-Nic Basket and other CD collections, bringing material to discs that had never been accessible before. He was not credited on the Toon Tunes series, so this sets the record straight.
I was asked to work on Toon Tunes after participating in Rhino’s “Billboard Family Classics” CD series, which also compiled material from TV and film. The Rhino folks had already committed several of the selections to the album before my involvement (for instance, I might have recommended Pinto Colvig’s “Bozo Song”, given the opportunity), but that’s a minor quibble.
The first time Rhino first released Toon Tunes in 1996, it was as a two-disc set produced in cooperation with R-Kive Records, a firm specializing in direct mail order. This album was sold exclusively through TV offers, like Ginsu knives and Thigh Masters. On this TV version, the fifty themes were spread over two discs, simply because of how direct marketing works—the physical presence of two discs rather than one suggests higher quantity and implied value.
It would be several months before the 1997 retail version was available in stores (this is the one with the “hammer head” cover). The retail version included all 50 selections on one disc. All the music is identical on either version.
Cheers to the Rhino people for coming up with the Toon Tunes concept, the first collection if its kind. Before it came along, there were not many albums that compiled cartoon themes previously, and the few that did so had mixed results and offered far fewer selections. Admittedly, the first label to offer soundtracks and/or authentic cartoon themes in large quantities was Tee Vee Toons; indeed, if you put all of Tee Vee Toons cartoon tracks together, it would also yield a large quantity of animation music. But Toon Tunes focused on animation (plus Howdy Doody) and released a number of selections that were not on Tee Vee Toons discs. (My advice would be to collect all of them to get everything possible, because there are variations among the releases.)
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Jetsons Main Title” (1962, Stereo)
When Earl Kress produced the Rhino Hanna–Barbera Classics Vol. 1 album, he had uncovered stereo versions of Top Cat and The Jetsons. For the latter theme, he added a “Wizard of Oz” effect, having the music start in mono and blast into stereo at the point where, as you recall in the animation, the earth pops into confetti-like pieces and George zooms by in his flying bubble car (which of course, we all now drive in the 21st century, right?).
TOON TUNES: FUNNY BONE FAVORITES
Rhino Records R2-74336 (Compact Discs / Mono & Stereo / 2001)
Producers: Greg Ehrbar, Earl Kress. Project Assistance: Daniel Goldmark. Remastering: Bob Fisher, Rae DiLeo. Illustration: Steve Vance. Package Design: Lisa Sutton. Art Director: Hugh Brown. Editorial Supervision: Sheryl Farber. Running Time: 47 minutes.
Cartoons & Songs New to this Album:
• Inspector Gadget (Shuki Levy/Haim Saban)
• Pinky and the Brain (Richard Stone/Tom Ruegger)
• Dexter’s Laboratory (Thomas Chase/Steve Rucker)
• Mickey Mouse Club: Mickey Mouse March (Jimmie Dodd) – The Mellomen
• Mr. Magoo (TV Cartoons) (Carl Brandt)
• Rocky and His Friends (Jay Ward)
• Bozo the Clown (Alan W. Livingston/Billy May) – Mr. Pickwick Singers
• Donald Duck Song (Oliver Wallace) – Disney Chorus
• Johnny Bravo (Louis Fagenson)
Selections Carried Over from the 1996/1997 Toon Tunes: The Flintstones; The Jetsons; George of the Jungle; The Bullwinkle Show; Yogi Bear; Tom and Jerry; The Alvin Show; Fractured Fairy Tales; Top Cat; Huckleberry Hound; Animaniacs; The Pink Panther; Rugrats; Magilla Gorilla; Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties; The Banana Splits; Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines; Casper, The Friendly Ghost; Quick Draw McGraw; Woody Woodpecker; Ren & Stimpy; Peabody’s Improbable History; The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show; Peanuts; Merrie Melodies.
The first two Toon Tunes albums performed well enough to warrant follow-up releases, but this time, Rhino asked to split the selections into comedy and action categories, so I came up with the goofball titles of “Funny Bone Favorites” and “Action-Packed Anthems” and made sometimes arbitrary decisions about which cartoon belonged in which category (e.g. whether Popeye or Scooby-Doo were action or comedy cartoons).
The original Toon Tunes albums presented the cartoon themes in chronological order (I messed up on Top Cat’s date—sorry—but fixed it in the second release), but while that creates an interesting “time travel” effect, it can hamper the overall flow of the album as well as its sales potential. When deciding on track order for a compilation, part of the producer’s job is varying the selections by tempo and mood. Even though each selection can be completely different, a lot of thought is given to how one track sounds going from one to another. You have to keep the audience in mind: what cartoons they want to hear the most or what might spark forgotten memories or be heard for the first time. I also like to save some goodies for the latter part of an album to keep the interest level high.
From a sales standpoint, if someone picks up one of these discs in a store (online or retail) and starts reading the track list, you definitely want to start off with a few that will elicit a positive “gotta have this” response—and that the recognition factor will vary greatly depending on who is doing the shopping. It’s not an exact science, but there is a common sense logic to it.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Jetsons” (1985)
Although it was later included on a Tee Vee Toons 12” single called “Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing”, this extended version was released on a promotional cassette called The Jetsons and Friends that, among other things, was sent to radio stations. (I remember seeing Hoyt Curtin on camera, conducting the orchestra for this version in an Entertainment Tonight segment about the new Jetsons series.)
TOON TUNES: ACTION-PACKED ANTHEMS
Rhino Records R2-74337 (Compact Discs / Mono & Stereo / 2001)
Producers: Greg Ehrbar, Earl Kress. Project Assistance: Daniel Goldmark. Remastering: Bob Fisher, Rae DiLeo. Illustration: Steve Vance. Package Design: Lisa Sutton. Art Director: Hugh Brown. Editorial Supervision: Sheryl Farber. Running Time: 51 minutes.
Cartoons & Songs New to this Album:
• Superfriends (Hanna/Barbera/Curtin)
• Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (David Mook/Ben Raleigh)
• Batman: The Animated Series (Danny Elfman)
• The Tick (Doug Katsaros)
• The Powerpuff Girls (Chase/Rucker/James Venable)
• Sailor Moon (Andy Heyward/Kanako Oda/ Tetsuya Komoro)
• King Kong (Maury Laws/Jules Bass) – Al Hirt
• DuckTales* (Mark Mueller)
• X-Men (Haim Saban/Shuki Levy)
• The Mighty Hercules (Winston Sharples/Win Singleton) – Johnny Nash
• Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers* (Mueller) – The Jets
Selections Carried Over from the 1996/1997 Toon Tunes: Speed Racer; Jonny Quest; Space Ghost; Spider-Man; Underdog; Popeye the Sailor; Mighty Mouse; Super Chicken; The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
Another advantage to compiling a new Toon Tunes series is the chance to include themes that weren’t in the earlier albums. Several Disney selections were licensed for both 2001 releases, along with two rare extended Hanna-Barbera themes conducted by Hoyt Curtin. One is Superfriends (see “Give a Little Listen”) and the other The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.
Of the two 2001 Toon Tunes albums, the “Action-Packed” one contains more tracks new to the Rhino series. Sometimes, when it is not possible to get the version requested, a backup is selected that is also very cool, like the stereo RCA Victor rendition of Rankin/Bass’ King Kong by Al Hirt (from his Green Hornet album). Also from RCA vinyl came Filmation’s Hardy Boys theme, which made its CD debut on this collection.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Also from The Jetsons and Friends cassette, this is a spectacular expanded version of an outstanding H-B theme, for which Hoyt Curtin must have brought in every brass musician in Southern California.
I have each one of these, and they are indeed treasures!
What’s really great about so much of the Hanna-Barbera music being included is that it wasn’t readily available in audio form for a number of years. The HBR albums with only a couple of exceptions did not include the original TV theme music (even though original background scores were often used).
The other selections were likewise excellent and in many cases rare. Some of them were tracks I hadn’t heard since childhood.
When I found “Funny Bone Favorites” and “Action Packed Anthems” there was no doubt that I wanted both.
You guys did some really great work and a real service to animation fans! Thanks for the awesome effort!
I wondered about that Jetsons’ theme! I thought it might have been taken from two different sources; it never occurred to me that that much thought was put into it. Earl Kress was a good guy who sure knew and cared about his toons.
I’ve got the fourth Toon Tunes CD with the theme from The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest which I loved! What’s funny is when The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest used to come Cartoon Network I try to “pirate” my own copy of the the theme of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest by using my late dad’s entertainment system which was a cassette recorder hooked up to the audio from the tv (of course this was for private use only and not for public!) But when the Toon Tunes CD came out I finally got my copy of the “TRAOJQ” theme so I can keep and download on my iPod! Also I notice there was two version of the original Jonny Quest theme a short version and a longer version of the theme. Also the original was a jazz style theme and the newer version had a full orchestra feeling with a fantastic use of strings,French Horns, Percussion, wood winds and synthentisers!
Speaking of “Superfriends”, I was wondering why the show didn’t use any existing female super heroes besides Wonder Woman. I’m still surprised the “girl of steel” didn’t get animated until Bruce and Paul’s Warner Animation series in the ’90’s.
Just a friendly head’s up for fans of Greg’s weekly posts here…
“The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” (mentioned a couple of months back in his post on Stan Freberg) will air this Thursday, June 4 at 9:30 AM EDT on Turner Classic Movies.
Greg’s original post (scroll halfway down): https://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/spin-special-stan-freberg-records
TCM schedule: http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=est&sdate=2015-06-04
The problem with the TeeVee Toons albums such as “Television’s Greatest Hits” is that many cuts were poor synthesizer re-creations (not much better than Casio-keyboard quality). At least in these collections, if the original theme could not be obtained, contemporary versions are substituted.
Didn’t know Chuck Lorre of “Two and a Half Men” infamy co-wrote the TMNT theme!
The main difference between the ’60s and ’80s versions of the Jetsons theme was that the latter used electronic drums.
“King Kong” is on my iPod, and it’s hilarious. It’s well performed, but the arrangement is so over the top it evokes an Italian James Bond knockoff.
“Jonny Quest” remains the definitive cool theme music in all its incarnations.
Dumb question: “The Impossibles” were always performing fragments of songs at the beginning or end of their shorts. Were there ever complete versions, or did they just do those fragments?
I also got the Al Hirt version of King Kong (which I didn’t realized that it was preformed by Al Hirt until today) on my iPod as well as both version of Jonny Quest (both the short version by The TV Theme Players which was in fact the original version and the long version by Tee Vee Toons also the original recording and the theme from The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest which is also on Tee Vee Toons.
The Impossibles songs were produced as complete tracks, but were cut down for the show. If Hanna-Barbera’s label had lasted longer, or if H-B would have been able to work a deal to make an Impossibles record, they would have been complete.
Those are on their way. By my estimation, the Jetsons is set in around 2097. (This is based on the 1962 promo voice-over: “My name is George Jetson, and I was born one hundred years from now!”).
Never heard of that one. Was it George O’Hanlon’s voice? When you say “voice over” does that mean something that was aired over the end credits of a show, or would it have been promoted on its own? Would there have been a visual to go with it?
I thought I knew all the Jetsons trivia. I’d love to hear (or see?) that one!
So if George was born in 2062, he would be 35 in 2097. that still gives us the better part of a century to get our flying cars, cruises to the moon, and moving sidewalks in place!
So if George was born in 2062, he would be 35 in 2097. that still gives us the better part of a century to get our flying cars, cruises to the moon, and moving sidewalks in place!
As long as we don’t render our extinction faster.
Yes, it was George O’Hanlon, and it was a voice-only thing run over the end credits of another show, as they commonly did.
I distinctly remember this happening, but whether anyone can prove it is another question.
Rhino Records also produced the “The Best of Anime” CD in September 1998. I am tempted to say “my Best of Anime CD” because I was so involved with it – I wrote the program notes – but it was mostly Enrique Galvez’s project. He was the manager of Banzai Anime in L.A. – one of the largest anime shops in America at the time – and he sold the project to Rhino. He had chosen about 30 anime theme songs, but Rhino could only afford to buy the rights for 16 of them. Enrique was a big anime fan, but he didn’t consider himself to be a writer, so he asked me to write the little booklet inside the CD cover. The booklet is reprinted in my “Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews” from Stone Bridge Press in 2004, so it’s still available in an electronic edition. I probably played my copy of the CD to death.
This was one of the fan projects that I wrote while all alone in “Streamline’s Santa Monica office” (actually Sceneries Entertainment’s 1660 Ocean Avenue storefront) during early 1998, while I was still on Streamline’s payroll. Streamline’s business came first, but by 1998 there was hardly any Streamline business, so Carl didn’t mind my working on personal projects while I kept an eye on all of Streamline’s 35 m.m. film prints, home video cassettes, posters, the few remaining model kits, and any other assets.
1. Astro Boy (English Language Version)
2. Gigantor (English Language Version)
3. Speed Racer (English Language Version)
4. Lum’s Love Song (From Urusei Yatsura)
5. Sentimental Over The Shoulder (From Megazone 23)
6. Beautiful Planet (From Windaria)
7. Active Heart (From Gunbuster)
8. Adesso E Fortuna (From Record Of Lodoss War)
9. Full Moon Light (From Devil Hunter Yohko)
10. Sailing (From Silent Mobius)
11. Happy Birthday To Me (From Cat Girl Nuku Nuku)
12. Just Beyond The Time (From New Dominion Tank Police)
13. My Heart I Can’t Say, Your Heart I Want To Know (From Oh My Goddess)
14. Cutey Honey (From New Cutey Honey)
15. Voices (From Macross Plus)
16. Sailor Moon Theme (English Language Version)
That was an excellent comp of hits I would’ve chose to had I put together that CD Fred (though I prefer “Koi de Coup d’Etat Go Go” from Devil Hunter Yohko myself).
I think that “Koi de Coup d’Etat Go Go” was on Enrique’s original list of about thirty songs. I assume that either it wasn’t available, or its rights cost too much, or Rhino maxed out its budget with the sixteen songs that it got first. The rights for the “Sailor Moon” theme song were really expensive, but Rhino felt that it had to have that on the CD to make it a “Best of Anime” rather than just a collection of really obscure songs.
A polite question…. Why are the “Theme From Howdy Doody” and the “Banana Splits Theme” here? These weren’t animated shows.
Very good question. The Banana Splits was largely animated with live-action segments to bridge the cartoons (and Danger Island, which was live action, too). It is arguably appropriate for the collection. Much as I love “Howdy Doody”, I cannot explain why it was included; that was a request other than mine. In order to make some connection to cartoons, I mentioned in the liner notes that Howdy was designed by former Disney animator Milt Neil — which is, sorry to say, not totally accurate. Wish I had a better explanation, but I appreciate the politeness.
The Howdy Doody show did include some animated segments, especially after the show went to color broadcasting and NBC apparently no longer wanted to use the black-and-white old time comedy sequences that had previously been part of the series. These included some of Art Clokey’s early “Gumby” films, and the British-made David Hand Animaland series, at a time when few if any Hollywood color cartoons were available for TV.
Great stuff! Here are the themes on my “wish list” for the future…
Some of the Ted Nichols themes from the 60’s…does anyone have an authoritative list of which ones he did vs. which ones Hoyt Curtin did?
Both themes from “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop” (I suspect Nichols did the more “tinkly” theme while Curtin did the one with the heavy brass intro, but I could be wrong.
Some of Dean Elliott’s themes for Ruby-Spears, like “The Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Hour,” (different from the half-hour version), “Thundarr the Barbarian,” and “Miss Switch.” (His work for De Patie-Freleng was fine too.)
Hoyt Curtin’s end credit themes from “The Godzilla Power Hour” (again different from the half-hour version) and “Jana of the Jungle.” There’s a version of the Jana theme at one of the TV theme web sites, but the audio quality is punishingly awful…
I was not aware of the other TOON TUNES disks I’m sorry to say. I only have the single disk version of the original TOON TUNES disk with all 50 themes on one disk, and the fantastic HANNA-BARBERA PICK-A-NICK BASKET OF CARTOON FAVORITES. I had heard rumblings that further toon soundtrack comps, featuring songs found in many classic cartoons was going to be released as an expansive box set–and I had suggested that the little title tune from the LITTLE LULU cartoon, “I’M CURIOUS” be used. I still think that the TOON MUSIC compact disk set should come out, and I’m sure that there would be many, many suggestions as to what could be included since there were so many terrific musical cartoons during the 1930’s alone, and I’m not even including Disney at all since those are well covered now in the Walt Disney Legacy collection! Nice job on all these, Greg, and thanks to the late, great Earl Kress as well. I wish Earl could have been around to do further commentaries for the one and only volume of the TOM AND JERRY GOLDEN COLLECTION series…and I hold out dim hope that the Hanna-Barbera end of the series will see completion so we can even possibly hear the actual stereo tracks on some of the cinemascope cartoons, if those actually exist.
I remember the version of The Ren & Stimpy Show theme on the first collection was an extended cover version, not the original that actually played on the TV series.
The Tiny Toon Adventures and DuckTales themes were also extended versions.
Always missing are the Themes from Jem And The Holograms, The Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe, The Smurfs, Muppet Babies, Maxie’s World, Beverly Hills Teens, The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, The Real Ghostbusters, Dennis The Menace, COPS animated series, Voltron, M.A.S.K. Punky Brewster animated, The Little’s The Snorks, Alvin And The Chipmunks, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Kidd Video, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and there are tons more, why can’t Rhino or Kid Rhino release a compilation of 80s cartoon themes only! Now that would be great!
Very true. Greedy copyright holders are the reason why “those” type of “sites” that you can acquire ANY cartoon theme exist!
A Smark Rant for Toon Tunes Action Packed Anthems
“More action packed than a Paris Hilton movie”
So this is one of two Toon Tunes CDs (along with Funny Bone Favorites) that Rhino released in 2001. Like Funny Bone Favorites, Action-Packed Anthems consists of songs from the 1997 Toon Tunes CD mixed in with some new ones (and probably some songs from the other Rhino cartoon intro CDs that wasn’t on the 50 song Toon Tunes disc). This one deserves a look as serious action/adventure cartoons traditionally have better theme songs than comedies.
NOTE: The songs will be rated on a scale of -***** to *****.
NOTE 2: This review will comment on certain quotes in the booklet.
The All-New Super Friends Hour 1977 theme (full version)
Okay, the booklet says this is the original 1973 theme with Ted Knight as narrator. This is actually the 1977 version with Bill Woodson. Now, since this is the full version, Woodson’s narration and sound effects (more on that in the next entry) are not included. I prefer the TV edit because of that. Sometimes less is more. Any of the old Superfriends themes work, but if I had to choose, I would have done either 1978 (Challenge), 1979 (World’s Greatest) or my personal pick of 1985 (Galactic Guardians). Still, a good start for this comp. **** (****1/4 for the TV edit)
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? 1969 theme 2 (no sound effects)
“the most successful Saturday-morning show in history”
Hmmm…I wonder what The Smurfs, Garfield, TMNT, Batman 1992 and the Animaniacs think about that? This is actually the SECOND Scooby-Doo theme (the original was an extended version of the episode title music with Casey Kasem saying Scooby-Doo, Where Are You in his Shaggy voice for the first two episodes) which brings us to one of the problems of this comp. Lack of details. As in which version of the theme song this is. In this case, it’s the Larry Marks version from 1969. I actually liked the Austin Roberts one from 1970 better even though Marks is still good too. Another problem with this comp, NO SOUND EFFECTS for most of the songs! The sound effects actually make the songs that have them more dramatic and exciting. Without them, they come off more like shallow and bland. Can you imagine The Shangri-Las “Leader Of The Pack” without sound effects? It would probably sound just as bland like most of these here! Finally, if I’m doing a comp called “Action-Packed Anthems”, I would expect serious action/adventure cartoons like Gundam and Action Man on here. Scooby-Doo (and a bunch of others on this comp) doesn’t fall under that criteria. Anyway, ** for the sound effectless Larry Mark version. (**** with them, ****3/4 for the Austin Roberts version)
Speed Racer 1967 theme
“the most popular Japanese animated series ever imported to the U.S.”
Dragon Ball series says hi. This song is by Danny Davis (no relation to Doug Basham’s uncle) & the Nashville Brass, and hey, sound effects! One of the few on this comp to retain them. ****1/2 A true classic.
Batman: The Animated Series
A classic this one is. Too bad the 1989 live action one couldn’t be used (for obvious reasons) as that is probably Batman’s best theme song easily. But the FOX one is still awesome. One of the better picks on here. ****3/4
The Tick (no sound effects)
This song wouldn’t be so bad, but I find scatting quite annoying…and this is some of the WORSE scatting I’ve ever heard. ** (**3/4 with the sound effects)
The Powerpuff Girls 1998 theme
Not exactly that memorable of a song. On the bright side, they didn’t do the lousy end credits theme. **1/2
Jonny Quest 1964 theme (full version)
The first of three awesome Jonny Quest intros. But it’s not worth sacrificing the sound effects for an additional 20 seconds that is basically the episode title card music. ***3/4 (****1/2 for the TV edit)
Space Ghost and Dino Boy (no sound effects)
Ah, the days when Tad Ghostal was a serious action/adventure character. But wait, Dino Boy wasn’t credited in the booklet! “Dino Boy should sue”! Song is great as one would expect with most of Hoyt Curtin’s works. ***1/2 (**** with the sound effects)
Sailor Moon 1992 theme (1995 English cover)
“Like Josie & The Pussycats, this popular 1995 Japanese import features a heroic rock group”
Ha! Ha! Ha! The only one who had a music career was Venus…and that was on the live action version! The Sailor Scouts are (probably) more likelier to hang around The Godfather and Val Venis than start a Huey Lewis & The News type group! Quite the surprise to see the classic Moonlight Densetsu theme song of the one that beat up CM Punk’s wife in Kinjjames Inc.’s fantasy wrestling league on this comp. And (of course) it’s the English dub cover that uses the 1994 Sailor Moon S remix of Moonlight Densetsu on this comp. Can’t say I blame them for using that one even if the original 1992 Japanese version is better. And hey, at least Sailor Moon is a serious action/adventure character (sort of) unlike say, The Hardy Boys or Touche FREAKIN’ Turtle! Good pick. **** (****3/4 for the 1992 original) Now, somebody needs to book a Sailor Scouts “Wargames match” against CM Punk and his New Nexus faction (with Husky Harris in his current and more awesome incarnation of Bray Wyatt).
Spider-Man 1967 theme
“This theme is from the 1967 Ralph Bakshi series”
It should be noted that Grantray-Lawrence Animation did the first season before Bakshi took over the next season. The high point of Spider-Man theme intros hands down. The compilers got this one correct. *****
King Kong 1966 theme (full version)
The TV edit contains singing while the full version is an instrumental! What were they thinking?!! The singing and lyrics of this song is great. The full instrumental is boring and sounds more goofy! *1/2 (***3/4 for the TV edit with vocal singing)
DuckTales 1987 theme (full version)
More of a “Funny Bone Favorite” than an “Action-Packed Anthem” (would you put DuckTales back to back with Vor-Tech and Ultraforce?), but netherless you can’t go wrong with this Jeff Pescetto classic whether it’s the TV edit (my personal pick) or the full monty. ***** for either version.
Underdog pre episode title theme (no sound effects)
This is the song that plays after the ACTUAL intro (which is 20 seconds and features Underdog speaking his catch phrase followed by narration) and before the episode title card. Kinda dull to be honest, sound effects don’t make it any better and the actual intro is also dull too. Underdog is more of an Inspector Gadget (of Funny Bone Favorites) type show than a Skysurfer Strikeforce type show. **1/4 for any version.
X-Men 1992 theme (no sound effects)
The best X-Men theme song easily…too bad it’s missing the sound effects. **** (***** with the sound effects)
Popeye The Sailor (I’m Popeye The Sailor Man)
This is (of course) the classic song that Popeye sings in the episodes and not the song that plays before the episode starts. I don’t have an idea which episode this version is from and I certainly don’t have the time to go through all of them to find out which one. As much as I like this song, they could have chosen a better version from a different episode since this one feels kinda slow and stilted compared to let’s say, the one used in “I Eats My Spinach”. Good old school song that is sadly overshadowed by songs from later decades with better technology. *** for the Toon Tunes one, ***3/4 for other versions. Nice thing about fantasy wrestling leagues, you can book any type of match you want such as the Popeye vs. Tony Soprano match I saw one time. Now somebody needs to book a Popeye vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin match.
Mighty Mouse 1955 theme (full version)
The best of the three Mighty Mouse themes that I know of (the others are the Filmation and Ralph Bakshi versions which are also good). The TV edit one features Mighty Mouse talking after the song is over. Not really needed or essential, so the compilers made the right call with the full version of this classic. ****1/4 (*** for the TV edit)
The Mighty Hercules 1963 theme
Sung by Mr. “I Can See Clearly Now” himself Johnny Nash, but I don’t find it as memorable as that song or other stronger cartoon themes out there. On the bright side, it destroys the 1998 theme and the sound effects didn’t get removed. ***
This song is played before a Super Chicken episode from the George Of The Jungle show. Though I personally like Tom Slick’s theme better, it’s still a nice classic 1960’s style song and hey, sound effects! ***3/4
Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers (The Jets)
Nice choice going with the full version by The Jets even though it means sacrificing the sound effects to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Jeff Pescetto TV edit version with the sound effects, but The Jets made this song even better. ****3/4 (****1/2 for the Jeff Pescetto version)
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (no sound effects)
The second Scooby-Doo theme song is nice, but really? This one over The Scooby-Doo Show, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo or even the 1979 Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show? I personally would have done The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby-Doo (and over on Funny Bone Favorites for that matter) instead as that one is my favorite Scooby-Doo theme. And it gets worse, in addition to no sound effects, the voice clips of Don Messick and co. throughout the song has been removed too! Turning one of the more average Scooby-Doo songs into a mediocre song! *3/4 (***1/2 with the sound effects)
The New Adventures Of Superman 1966 theme
Forgettable choice. John Williams nailed that Superman song very well in 1978 and thus I would have used the TV edit one of Williams iconic song used for the 1988 Ruby-Spears version instead of this Filmation one with sub-par singing. **3/4
Astro Boy 1963 theme (full version)
It’s not bad, but unfortunately, this song falls victim to the dreaded “primitive technology” of the time, because the 1980 theme just destroys this one on every instrumental level. ***
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 theme
Here’s a fun fact, the original version of this legendary song didn’t have sound effects to begin with. They were added to the song when the Turtles jumped to CBS in 1990, and the addition of sound effects made this song EVEN BETTER! However, I’m willing to go easy on the compilers this time since the original didn’t have sound effects to begin with even if the 1990 one is better. **** (****3/4 for the CBS version)
Hong Kong Phooey (no sound effects)
A legendary song that will no doubt bring back memories of Carl Douglas’s “Kung-Fu Fighting”. Lack of sound effects (once again) hurts this compilation as usual. ***1/2 (****1/4 with the sound effects)
Darkwing Duck (no sound effects)
Another Jeff Pescetto classic (he did sing the original DuckTales theme after all) that loses a star for the removal of the sound effects again… ***3/4 (****3/4 with the sound effects)
The Hardy Boys 1969 theme (full version)
“Franklin W. Dixon’s mystery-book series”
I wonder if the compilers of this comp know that Franklin W. Dixon is a pseudonym for the many writers of this series and that credit should go to Edward Stratemeyer since he (you know) CREATED The Hardy Boys? Oh boy, I wonder what kind of substances the compilers were on when they chose this one over ACTUAL “Action-Packed Anthems” like the two Swat Kat themes and Jayce & the Wheeled Warriors? It’s basically your poor man’s Gary Lewis & the Playboys or Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons type song (Edward Stratemeyer was probably rolling over in his grave when Filmation decided to make The Hardy’s Monkee knock offs). And it gets worse as it’s the full version which makes this song dull and boring compared to the TV edit which at least is tolerable. I suggest you check out the live action theme from 1978 with Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson if you want an awesome Hardy Boys theme instead. *1/2 (**3/4 for the TV edit) Now we need somebody who runs a fantasy wrestling league to book Frank and Joe Hardy vs. Matt and Jeff Hardy in a Hell In A Cell match!
Gigantor 1963 theme (no sound effects)
First off, doesn’t Mega Man X8’s Avalanche Yeti resemble Gigantor a bit? Interesting note. As for the song, it sounds like a Harry Belafonte song, but I’m not exactly a fan of Harry Belafonte so I can’t consider this song must have material. Even the sound effects don’t make this song any better. ** for either version. Oh yeah, The New Adventures Of Gigantor is basically the original with a narration sequence at the beginning. So that’s not much better either. I recommend the 1980 Japanese version known as Tetsujin 28-go or even the Spanish intro known as “Ironman 28” (don’t ask) if you want a good Gigantor theme instead.
Tale Spin (full version)
Sometimes less is more. Tale Spin is a perfect example of this as I don’t consider this one of the must have Disney songs out there. At 60 seconds however, The Tale Spin song is perfectly fine. But with the full version, the song kinda drags. The lack of sound effects with a full version doesn’t help either. **3/4 (***3/4 for the TV edit)
Crusader Rabbit (intro and end credits)
Pretty clever to combine both the intro theme and end credits theme as one song, which is also known as a medley ala the Twisted Sister medley Horror-Teria that consists of the songs Captain Howdy and Street Justice as one. But I find this song very forgettable overall. At least it’s short. **1/4
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (full version)
Another great song from Hoyt. Unfortunately, like Tale Spin, Charlie Chan’s theme works better when kept short. Sigh. *** (**** for the TV edit) Now somebody needs to book an Elimination Chamber match between Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Velma Dinkley, Dottie (Clue Club), Nancy Drew and Batman with The Crippler Chris Benoit as the guest referee and Mike Tyson and Jet Stingray as the special enforcers.
Atom Ant theme 2 (no sound effects)
The Good: It’s the second version of the song with Ted Cassidy’s awesome narration and not the instrumental original. The Bad: Take a wild guess (Hint: it’s located near “Atom Ant theme 2”). ***1/2 (**** with the sound effects)
Touche Turtle (intro, episode title card and the end card themes with no sound effects)
What in blue blazes?!! The compilers decided to waste a spot on freakin’ TOUCHE TURTLE?!! Who (of course) is another “Funny Bone Favorite” on an “Action-Packed Anthem”. Well if that’s the case, than I’d like to see him fight “Action-Packed Anthem” type villains like Red Son Superman and Sephiroth! Then will see if Touche is a “serious action/adventure” character. As for the song, like Crusader Rabbit, they’ve combined the intro, title card and the end card themes as a one song medley. Again, waste of a slot. The song is not atrocious but there are much better songs out there (both cartoon intros and big band jazz music) so I wouldn’t knock my head out for this one. **1/4 sound effects or not either way.
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
The description in the booklet is correct, but the title is wrong as Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego is the DIC cartoon on FOX. Thank goodness it’s not the FOX one as it’s the weakest and most forgettable of the three Carmen Sandiego TV themes. The Rockapella one used for the original Carmen game show Where In The World is a great song with very clever lyrics. Only problem here is…it’s the freakin’ TV EDIT!!! Can’t these compilers do anything right?!! The one time when the TV edit of a song doesn’t do it justice and they went ahead and did that one anyway! There is also a 2:34 minute version of this great song, but that one doesn’t do it justice either. The full 3:00 minute version is the way to go. So go for that one. ** (****1/4 for the full 3:00 minutes) Oh yeah, I forgot, I think Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego is the best of the three Carmen Sandiego theme songs, but the compilers made the right call with the Rockapella one, after all, this comp is called “Toon Tunes” and at least Where In The World has some animation, whereas Where In Time doesn’t as far as I know.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers (end credits)
When you don’t give out details of which song of that show is on here, then you have situations like this where I was thinking it would be the original LeVar Burton opening intro narration (that is completely awesome) and not this horrible New Kids On The Block rip off they call a song that is used as the end credits theme. Note to compilers: How hard is it to print “Captain Planet and the Planeteers (end credits theme)” on the freakin’ booklet?!! The worst song on this comp easily. I’d rather listen to Bastion Booger’s sorry excuse of a theme song than this dreck. * and that’s being generous!
Secret Squirrel (no sound effects)
And the lack of killer sound effects continues. Aren’t The Shangri-Las glad that their songs don’t appear here? Shudder to think what “Leader Of The Pack” would sound like without the sound effects! This song is so good that I actually thought this was by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and hey, that’s a huge upgrade from Duran Duran Wannabes On The Block. ***1/2 (****3/4 with the sound effects)
Jonny Quest 1996 theme
“Twenty-four years after Jonny’s debut,”
Hmmm…let’s see, 1964+24=1988. That’s two years after the Hardrock years and eight years before the Jessie Bannon years. I’d say whoever compiled this is way off. And on that, we end this comp with an excellent orchestra sounding take on Hoyt Curtin’s classic Jonny Quest theme from 1996. Very nice. ****3/4
At the end of the day we have lack of details of which version of this song for this show, almost half of these songs are missing their sound effects, full versions of themes that are better off kept short, TV edit of one that needed the full monty and over half of these shows that are more tailor made for “Funny Bone Favorites”. In fact I can come up with a list (pre 2001 since that was the year this was compiled) of “Action-Packed Anthems” that should have been on here. (all songs listed are the intros unless otherwise noted)
Swat Kats 1993
Swat Kats 1994
Jonny Quest 1986 (the best of the three Jonny Quest themes!)
Jayce & the Wheeled Warriors
Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (M.A.S.K.)
Galaxy Rangers intro
Galaxy Rangers end credits 2/Rangers Are Forever
Thundarr The Barbarian
The Magician 1999
The Transformers 1985
Battle Of The Planets a.k.a. Gatchaman
Biker Mice From Mars 1993
Fantastic Four 1967 with narration
Fantastic Four 1978
Fantastic Four 1994
G.I. Joe 1989
G.I. Joe Extreme
Action Man 1995
The Incredible Hulk 1996
Young Samson & Goliath
Birdman & the Galaxy Trio
The Herculoids 1
The Herculoids 2
Pirates Of Dark Water
Young Robin Hood
Galtar and the Golden Lance
Captain Planet (original LeVar Burton Soviet Union narration intro)
Starcom The U.S. Space Force
Iron Man 1995
And that’s just off the top of my head! There are probably dozen of others I’ve forgotten. Point is, the greedy copyright holders are the reason why most of these songs are not on here (and probably the compilers have the intelligence of a sign post as well).
The Bottom Line: If you want cartoon intros (especially with sound effects), use the power of the search engine and find the Sound America type of websites out there (I can mention them because they’ve been dead for years). Unless, you’re the type that enjoys hearing “Leader Of The Pack” without the sound effects that is.
Can’t go any higher than a thumbs way down for this.
PS – One last note: after reading Tammy La Gorce’s “editorial review” of Action-Packed Anthems on Amazon, I can only deduce that she is a complete moron. And that’s being generous!
“I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here.”