Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The phrase "Saturday morning cartoons" has never made a lot of sense to me.

Those of us who grew up in England in the 1970s tend to think of them as "weekday afternoon cartoons after Jackanory", but we patronise the Americans enough to understand what they're on about.

In 1996 (in my twenties) my friend Herschel lent me a copy of Saturday Morning – cartoon's greatest hits, and it wasn't long before I set out to get my own copy.

It's basically a heap of rock cover-versions of cartoon TV themes from yesteryear, and as such the fusion of metal with nostalgia never fails to get my adrenaline surging.

Some of the delivery is a bit vacant, but many of these tracks seem to express an equal amount of love for both the original series, and the heavy metal genre. Several bands end their tracks on feedback, and Sublime's version of Hong Kong Phooey barely lasts six lines before shamelessly descending into reggae.

Almost every track is underscored with respect however, and you have to admire how, for the Popeye theme, face to face have pronounced the word "finish" as "finich" to rhyme with "spinach" throughout the entire number.

And having grown-up in Britain, there were plenty of cartoons represented on here that in 1996 I'd never even heard of. I've still never seen Goolie Get-Together (played here by the Toadies), but admit I'm hooked by lyrics that go:

Everybody shout!
Come on now, sing out!
It's time for the
Goolies Get-Together,
You’re gonna see,
How funny they can be,
'cause it's time for the
Goolies Get-Together!

That, Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids and Gigantor are all shows off this album that I have to watch at least one episode of before I die.

Today I have many happy memories of listening to this album all over the world over the years, but the strongest I guess is of lifting weights to Liz Phair and Material Issue's Banana Splits one morning in Matamata in 2004, and hearing Sponge's Go Speed Racer Go kicking-in afterwards. Yes, this CD can even make you fit.

If I keep listing my other favourite tracks, then I'll probably wind-up putting almost the entire tracklist here, but the themes from Josie And The Pussycats and H R Pufnstuf are particularly special too.

The one and only dud number on here is the final one – Wax's Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from The Ren And Stimpy Show, which sticks out for several reasons:

i. It's from twenty years later,
ii. It's from a different genre,
iii. It has none of the innocent charm of the others,
iv. It's absolutely full of hatred.

After so many great feel-good numbers, it's a terrible track to finish on. What a shame those guys didn't get the joke.

Track Listing:

1. The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) [The Banana Splits] - Liz Phair with Material Issue
2. Go, Speed Racer, Go! - Sponge
3. Sugar, Sugar [from The Archie Show] - Mary Lou Lord with Semisonic
4. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? - Matthew Sweet
5. Josie and the Pussycats - Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly
6. The Bugaloos - Collective Soul
7. Underdog - Butthole Surfers
8. Gigantor - Helmet
9. Spider-Man - The Ramones
10. Johnny Quest / Stop That Pigeon - The Reverend Horton Heat
11. Open Up Your Heart And Let The Sun Shine In - Frente!
12. Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah (Means I Love You) - Violent Femmes
13. Fat Albert Theme - Dig
14. I'm Popeye The Sailor Man - face to face
15. Friends / Sigmund And The Seamonsters - Tripping Daisy
16. Goolie Get-Together - Toadies
17. Hong Kong Phooey - Sublime
18. H.R. Pufnstuf - The Murmurs
19. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy - Wax

(Available to sample here and buy here!)

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