One of the best TV theme songs of all time has to be the Scooby Doo theme. I probably don’t need to say more than that but I will anyway. This is the more bubblegummy second season version, which is sung by Austin Roberts, who also sang and co-wrote all of the “chase songs” for the show. Austin Roberts later had a hit with a song called Rocky (1975) which is a classic of the icky-treacly-tears-on-my-Xmas-shoes soap-opera story-song genre. You know the type, they usually end with someone dead (which I support) followed by some sort of uplifting coda (which I DO NOT). Just listening to a bit of it causes a reflex reaction in my AM-radio button-switching finger.
Getting back to Scooby Doo, here is the superior first season version of the theme – more prominent drums, rocks a little harder, creepier organ, less cheery background vocals. But my intensive five minutes of research failed to reveal who sings this version, so let’s just assume it’s Ronnie James Dio.
Tonight is the night that It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown airs for the 51st year. Yikes! The show is easily one of the best holiday specials of all time and fans can fight it out with Rudolph and Charlie Brown Christmas special over which is number one. (Me: They’re all great). One of the genius decisions that was made when the first Charlie Brown special was made (the Christmas one) was hiring Vince Guaraldi to score it. That soundtrack was amazing, and his score for Great Pumpkin is as good or even better. His jazz sound is just the right combination of sad, whimsical and eerie to perfectly capture the autumnal feeling of the show. Ironically, he got the Charlie Brown gigs because of a happy accident – his group released a single that was a cover version of a song but the deejays discovered the B-side, an original called Cast Your Fate to the Wind and made it a left-field hit. The Peanuts producer heard it and rolled the dice. And the rest is…
Some fun trivia: Vince’s uncle was a famous whistler, that’s him on the Hugh Montenegro single of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Vince was friends with the Grateful Dead and he’s in the picture on the back of Aoxomoxoa!
Oh I am so far behind on this! Anyway, today’s Treat (or is it a Trick?) is the delightfully dippy and thoroughly 80’s “Dracula’s Tango” by Total Coelo, the British prducer-project New Wave group who had a big hit with the (also Halloween appropriate) “I Eat Cannibals”. I like this one better tho.
Fun trivia note: They were featured in performance in the (unreleased but bootleg-available) movie Grizzly II: The Predator which featured Charlie Sheen, George Clooney and Laura Dern in small early roles and starred genre faves like Louise Fletcher, John Rhys-Davies and Deborah Foreman. It’s about a rock concert attacked by an angry grizzly (angry that Total Coelo is someone’s idea of “rock”, probably).
For something different, here’s actor Jason Segel doing some awesome puppetry on the Craig Ferguson show. He did a shorter version of this song, Dracula’s Lament, in the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I wish Jason would put his efforts toward making an all-muppet Dracula film.
Here’s a spooky trucker tale that fans of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure will find familiar, Phantom 309. Red Sovine was known for sappy, sentimental country/western story-songs. His biggest hit, Teddy Bear is so treacly it makes Christmas Shoes sound like Cannibal Corpse. Nonetheless, Phantom 309 is a cool tune.
There’ll be plenty of Monster Mashin’ in our future but here’s a cool rarity, so rare that it really doesn’t quite exist! The tale: in 1965 an episode of the terrific rock ‘n’ roll party show Shindig was hosted by Ted Cassidy (in costume as his character Lurch from The Addams’ Family) and featured a guest appearance by none other than Boris Karloff, who snarled his way through a version of The Monster Mash! How awesome is that? Too awesome for the likes of us, apparently, because most of the episode is now lost! However an enterprising teen recorded the show’s sound on his reel-to-reel (that’s how we did it back in the day, I still have some Star Trek reels somewhere) so we have the audio; and another enterprising teen-at-heart recreated the footage by manipulating what was still available. It ain’t perfect, but it’s what we got! Enjoy!
Following yesterday’s post I couldn’t resist the temptation to post this not-particularly-Halloweeny-but-still-sort-of-Halloweeny 1987 British hit by The Jellybottys. It was their only hit but it’s a classic. And when it was recorded, it was true! Though, one suspects, on a moonlit night when the stars are right and the sea wind whistles down the lane, you might spot a figure bicycling, a lone silhouette against an autumn moon…
What could be more appropriate for October than a called “Spooky“? Well, lots of things, I suppose, since the song is a lite-rock standard and there are few things less (or do I mean MORE?) terrifying than lite-rock. The group that had a hit with it, The Classics IV, were pioneers of that sound (yay?) and most of them went on to form the Alanta Rhythm Section to commit more of it. It was originally an instrumental by Mike Sharpe, hitting #57 on the charts in 1967, but two of the four Classics had the idea of adding lyrics that mentioned witches and Halloween and a seasonal favorite was born. For your enjoyment I present this disco-era version by Donny and Marie Osmond, which may not be the best version of the song but it IS absolutely not the best version og the song.