Categories
Music Reviews

Cardcaptors

Cardcaptors

Songs from the Hit TV Series

Kid Rhino

The latest cartoon/anime/infomercial from Japan to create a splash in America is Cardcaptors. A mix of adventure and trading card promotion, Cardcaptors is actually rather enjoyable. Not nearly as good as, say, Sailor Moon, it still outshines most of the garbage parading as children’s entertainment. Now Kid Rhino has released a CD of songs from the show. These are all songs from the American version, so don’t expect any J-pop, it is strictly US studio acts. The songs, from bands with names like Tempest, Superhum, and Pure West, are super sweet yet inoffensive. There are more references to good friends and starting the adventure than one can count, but a girl aged 8-12 who likes Cardcaptors is sure to want and adore this disc, much to her parent’s chagrin,

Kid Rhino: http://www.kidrhino.com • Cardcaptors: http://www.clowbook.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Toon Tunes

Toon Tunes

Action-Packed Anthems

Funny Bone Favorites

Kid Rhino

Proving once again that Rhino excels not only at archiving decades worth of popular music, but decades of popular culture as well, these two discs (each sold separately) collect a total of 72 themes from some of your favorite cartoons, from the early days of television to today.

Action-Packed Anthems features 36 themes from super-hero, action-adventure, and mystery shows, including all-time classics like the unforgettable themes from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Speed Racer, Spider-Man, Space Ghost, and Superfriends, and modern favorites like Batman: The Animated Series, The Tick, The Powerpuff Girls, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It ends up being the more diverse of the two discs, going from the (fairly tepid) J-pop of “Sailor Moon” and Disney-riffic stuff like “Duck Tales” and “Tale Spin” to the ’70s pseudo-funk of “Hong Kong Phooey” and hoary classics like “Popeye The Sailor” and “Mighty Mouse.” The disc is pretty satisfying, though if they were going to expand the definition of this disc to include shows that were more comedy than adventure, I wish they’d included “Inspector Gadget” (which instead appears on the other disc) and “Freakazoid!,” which is criminally the only of the ’90s Spielberg/Warner Bros. cartoons missing from both discs. Really, I wouldn’t have minded missing such lesser fare as “The Hardy Boys,” “The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan,” or “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” if it meant that these two super-catchy classic themes could have been on this disc. For that matter, I’d have skipped duplicative themes like “The New Scooby-Doo Movies” (a less clever version of the original) and “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest” in favor of including a few more shows. Still, Action-Packed Anthems is a solid disc that mostly sticks to the original versions you’re familiar with from television (though “Superfriends” seems to be some extended remix kinda gig, if memory serves me right).

Funny Bone Favorites doesn’t fare quite as well, unfortunately. It’s still a solid collection with a really good mix of stuff, from classics like the themes from The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and George of the Jungle to modern favorites like the themes from Dexter’s Laboratory, Animaniacs, Johnny Bravo, and The Ren & Stimpy Show, but it suffers on a few points. First is a seeming over-reliance on Bullwinkle-related music — the disc not only includes the themes from The Bullwinkle Show and its antecedent, Rocky and His Friends, but also the themes from such segments as “Fractured Fairy Tales,” “Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties,” and “Peabody’s Improbable History.” I’d have been happy with just “Bullwinkle” and perhaps “Rocky” to represent the (admittedly groundbreaking) show, to give other shows a shot at representation. Likewise, as the series is entitled Toon Tunes, I’d have skipped over themes from non-animated shows like The Mickey Mouse Club, The Banana Splits, and The Bozo Show. While all are classics (especially the ever-catchy Banana Splits theme, I’d rather see them on a separate disc of non-animated favorites, maybe alongside music from the great Sid & Marty Krofft shows of the ’70s, for example. My biggest problem, though, is when the CD doesn’t stick to the original TV versions of the themes. The most glaring example of this is the theme from Tiny Toon Adventures, which appears in a version that must have been on a Tiny Toons CD in the ’90s, made obvious when the characters sing “and this afternoon-y we’re invading your CD,” as opposed to the original “and in this cartoon-y we’re invading your TV.” The version’s also twice as long as the original, meaning that, again, room that could have been given to represent another show was squandered (though admittedly, hearing the Tiny Toons sing in foreign languages is amusing). I could quibble with the inclusion of the theme from The Pink Panther, too — the music was written for the live-action movie, not the cartoon — but it’s more identified with the cartoon, so I’m inclined to let it slide.

All this may sound like a rare misstep for Rhino, but the quality otherwise is top-notch, with excellent masters (on both discs) making most of this material sound far better than it ever did on TV, and more than making up for any shortcomings. Frankly, only nostalgia connoisseurs like myself would even notice most of the things I point out in this review — the average fan will simply love these discs, and as well they should, because quibbles aside, they’re great. Hearing themes from The Yogi Bear Show and The Magilla Gorilla Show straight from the original shows, complete with endorsements intact, is endlessly fascinating, and all in all, it’s wonderful that this material is being preserved. Pick these up and relive part of your childhood — no matter what your age, these discs should bring a smile to your face.

Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025-4900; http://www.kidrhino.com

Categories
Music Reviews

The City of Soundsville

The City of Soundsville

Music From The Powerpuff Girls

Kid Rhino

Cue Narrator: “The City of Townsville! A vibrant and colorful community!” And also home of some of the hippest music ever to grace a cartoon. Unlike last year’s brilliant Heroes & Villains, which found some of the coolest bands on the underground scene doing Powerpuff Girls-themed songs and telling a story, The City of Soundsville takes the fantastic theme and incidental music from the show (courtesy of composers James L. Venable, Steven Rucker, and Thomas Chase) and remixes it into 17 techno/dance anthems that wouldn’t be out of place on any dance floor, complete with plentiful dialogue samples from the show. And as the Mayor of Townsville says on his eponymous track, “This techno music is dope!” Each track perfectly matches the character or setting it describes. For example, each of The Girls’ tracks are variations on the show’s opening theme, but Blossom’s is all percolating busy-ness, while Buttercup’s is fuly of hard rock guitar thrash, and Bubbles’ is delightfully child-like. Other highlights include The Boogie Man’s appropriately funky track, Fuzzy Lumpkins’ twang-fest, the Professor’s driving, high-tech theme, and Princess’s swanky melodrama. Even the über-catchy closing theme by Bis gets a reworking. Highly recommended to fans of both the show and intelligent electronica; “and once again, the day [and your CD collection] is saved, thanks to The Powerpuff Girls!”

Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles Ca 90025-4900; http://www.kidrhino.com, http://www.cartoonnetwork.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

Songs From the Animated Feature & More

Kid Rhino

This is a cute, kid-friendly assemblage of tunes from and inspired by the two recent direct-to-video Scooby Doo flicks, and being a long time, dyed-in-the-wool Scooby fan, I couldn’t resist it. The bulk of the record is made up of tunes by the Hex Girls, an animated girl group that appeared in the latest of the videos, Scooby Doo & the Witch’s Ghost . The real Hex Girls are an aggregate of session singers led by the irresistible ex-Go-Go, Jane Wiedlin. Their tunes are poppy, semi-spooky (but not spooky enough to scare the little ones), and very hooky (you will catch yourself singing them). To me, the tunes that were actually in the movie aren’t as fun as the new songs that play into the signature elements of the long-running series — and with titles like “Scooby Snacks,” “Zoinks!,” and “Those Meddlin’ Kids,” you probably know exactly what I mean Scooby and Shaggy get in on the action for these tunes, and they’re a lot of fun. The album is rounded out by a couple of generic songs from Scooby Doo on Zombie Island and two versions of the classic TV theme, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”: a harmless instrumental and a horrid cover by Billy Ray Cyrus that’s almost as evil as Scrappy Doo (it’s the first track, so start the disc with number two, and you’ll be safe). All in all, it’s a neat bit of fluff that you can enjoy with your kids, or as a guilty pleasure after a late night Cartoon Network binge.

Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Teletubbies

Teletubbies

Teletubbies: The Album

Kid Rhino

People are quick to quick to negate or embrace Teletubbies based on its “weirdness.” With its abstract and simplistic qualities, it’s easy to see a lot of things in Teletubbies. The show is an empty vessel into which almost anyone who watches it can invest their imagination. The fact so many people see Teletubbies as “weird” and are not recognizing an inherent innocence is a sad statement about society as a whole. Fringe groups attempt to politicize Teletubbies as making a statement about sexuality or race. Others see the Teletubbies as something to “trip out” to. (Unfortunately, Teletubbies’ promoters don’t shy away from these aspects.) Why do so many people complicate and corrupt something that could be so doggone pure? Why can’t we simply appreciate things for their simplicity? All I know is that when I watch Teletubbies, in any state of mind, it brings an easy smile to my face. I can’t say the same about most television these days. Teletubbies reflect an amount of thought and imagination absent in most television. Ironically, it is the majority of adult programming which is pretty formulated: sexual and violent payoffs with the occasional sitcom chuckle. Teletubbies may actually be weird, but for the age bracket it is designed for, all television is weird. The difference being that Teletubbies is a tad more comprehensible, and a lot less reprehensible.

The album itself is what Teletubbies fans would expect. The music is as abstract and simple as the visuals and storylines themselves. The trademark banjo, tuba, and “rat-a-tat” snare weaving in and out of calliope-like keyboard tracks, and occasional interactions between the narrator and the Teletubbies themselves. Signature songs “Teletubbies say ‘Eh-oh!” and “Lullaby” highlight what could be a welcome sound to the ears of kids trapped somewhere in all of us. “Eh-frickin’-oh!!!!” Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Space Ghost + Co.

Space Ghost + Co.

Space Ghost’s Surf & Turf

Kid Rhino

It’s only fitting that a superhero’s music should come out on a label that sounds like a superhero’s name (Kid Rhino! He was bitten by a gamma-spawned mutant radioactive rhinoceros, and gained the proportionate strength and speed of that mighty beast, along with the uncanny ability to reshape noses with the power of his mind!). But I digress.

If you dig Space Ghost Coast to Coast and its even-more-twisted spin-off, Cartoon Planet, you’re going to love Space Ghost’s Surf & Turf. There’s not any new material here, but when you’ve got classic silly tunes like “Fight the Power Bands,” “Something that Rhymes with Bones,” and “Moo Kaluka,” interspersed with hilarious recurring bits like “A Nugget of Joy from Zorak,” “Brak’s Comedy Gold,” and “The Cartoon Planet Storybook,” who needs new material? Pop this into your car’s cassette deck and sing along! You either get this stuff, or you don’t. If you do, there’s something wrong with you; if you don’t, I don’t want to know you! Kid Rhino, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025-4900,

Categories
Music Reviews

Dexter’s Laboratory

Dexter’s Laboratory

The Musical Time Machine

Kid Rhino

If you’ve never seen Dexter’s Laboratory on Cartoon Network, you’ve been missing one of the most inventive, witty, and fun shows on the air. Dexter is a boy genius obsessed with science. He’s built a massive hidden laboratory in his suburban home. He’s smart enough to rule the world, but for the intrusions of his carefree (and more-than-slightly dense) older sister, Dee Dee. Dee Dee blithely skips through life, destroying all of Dexter’s creations in her wake. Meanwhile, their parents remain blissfully ignorant of all their children’s shenanigans, trapped in a Ward & June Cleaver time warp all their own.

Dexter’s Laboratory: The Musical Time Machine brings much of the fun of the series to your CD player. The centerpiece is an audio episode of the show called “The Musical Time Machine,” in which Dee Dee absconds with Dexter’s newly-invented time machine and wreaks havoc with musical history. She influences musicians throughout history with a melody she made up, which you end up hearing in just about every musical style imaginable. Dexter gives chase, of course, to hilarious effect.

Also noteworthy is “Lab-retto,” which, as the name suggests, is an opera featuring telling the story of Dexter’s birth. The CD also includes the show’s distinctive main and end title themes and two songs from memorable episodes, “Golden Diskette” (from the episode of the same name, which answered the musical question “What if Bill Gates were Willy Wonka?”) and “Breathe in the Good Sunshine.” All in all, it’s a worthwhile purchase for fans of the show. If you are not a fan (yet), what’s wrong with you? Catch an episode or two, and I’m sure you’ll be running out to pick up a copy of Musical Time Machine, too. Kid Rhino, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025-4900, 1-800-432-0020; http://www.rhino.com, http://www.cartoonnetwork.com