HERC loves TV Theme Song Compilations: The CD Years 1989-1996

As the Eighties became the Nineties, several changes were going on in my life: our family was growing, our household discretionary income was increasing as we both moved up the corporate ladder and my CD collection grew exponentially at the expense of my vinyl collection, as I am sure yours was too.  You might remember from a previous post that at the end of the Eighties, I had just discovered the Television's Greatest Hits series from TeeVee Toons and had purchased the first three volumes, all on double vinyl albums.
Sometime in the Fall of 1989, during a routine looking for nothing in particular trip to PDQ Records, I picked up something in particular - my first TeeVee Toons compact disc, The Commercials.  It was used yet still priced at $9; I must have walked around the store with it for a solid 45 minutes debating whether or not to buy it before finally pulling the trigger.
As you probably imagined, further mixtape hijinks ensued with the addition of The Commercials disc to the library.  I did come across another TV themed CD shortly after that trip and it may surprise you that I took a pass on it - that's right, saw it and said "No, thank you, none for me."  Titled Rerun Rock, it was classic TV themes redone in modern styles with celebrity voice impersonators.  It's only redeeming quality was it was on Rhino.  Here's the obligatory cover art if you want to seek it out (and if you have it, I'd love to hear it.)
The next step in the evolution of my TV themes CD collection came about when I bought the first three volumes of Television's Greatest Hits again, this time on compact disc.  (Shhhh! Don't tell Mrs. HERC but that is where the majority of 1990's Christmas music budget went.)  As had been my custom since late 1987 when I sold the majority of my music collection to pay my newborn daughter's staggering medical bills, every time I bought a CD "upgrade" of a vinyl album, I gave the vinyl version away.
For my 29th birthday in 1995, Valerie, one of my new co-workers (I switched jobs in 1993) bought me the CD pictured above because she said I was always humming "some TV theme song".  While I highly doubt the veracity of that claim, I am particularly adept at humming whatever earworm gets into my head on any given day throughout the course of the day.  Valerie and I did share a passion for music of the Eighties and we both would scream along to said music after closing.  Hate to admit this but the CD did not spend much time in my library.  (Sorry, Valerie.  It's the thought that counts.)  I did receive $3 store credit for it though - Amazon currently offers 40 cents credit for anyone interested in trading their disc in.  The disc didn't really offer anything I didn't already have and if it did, I don't remember what. A couple of weeks after ditching the disc I came across the greatest collection of TV themes I had ever seen or heard up to that point, Rhino's three volume Tube Tunes, possibly the greatest collection of television themes from the '70s and '80s ever.  Allow me to present my case:
16 themes  37:00
My favorite tracks with 45 edits noted with a *:
  • "Love American Style" - The Cowsills (1969)*
  • "The Tra La La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)" - The Banana Splits (1969)*
  • "Love Is All Around" - Sonny Curtis (1970)*
  • "When We're Singin'" - The Partridge Family (1970)
  • "And Then There's Maude" - Donny Hathaway (1972)
  • "Good Times" - Jim Gilstrap & Blinky Williams (1974)
  • "Movin' On Up" - Ja'net DuBois & Oren Waters (1975)
  • "Theme form The Men" - Isaac Hayes (1972)*
  • "Happy Days" - Pratt & McClain (1975)*
  • "Making Our Dreams Come True" - Cyndi Grecco (1976)*
  • "Chico And The Man" - José Feliciano (1974)*
  • "The Rockford Files" - Mike Post (1974)*
I would have included track 12, MFSB's classic "TSOP" from Soul Train but the wrong version is included on the disc and that is probably Volume One's only shortcoming.  (listen to the correct version here)  The disc's revelations are the racially insensitive full-length theme to All In The Family (track 7) and the single version of the theme to Mary Tyler Moore (track 5) which takes on a distinctly country vibe compared to the brief version used to open the show.  
16 themes  41:32
My favorite tracks with 45 edits noted with a *:
  • "Welcome Back" - John Sebastian (1975)*
  • "Theme from S.W.A.T." - Rhythm Heritage (1975)*
  • "Wonder Woman" - New World Symphony (1976)*
  • "Love Boat Theme" - Jack Jones (1977)*
  • "Makin' It" - David Naughton (1979)*
  • "B.J. and the Bear" - Greg Evigan (1979)
  • "Magnum, P.I." - Mike Post (1981)*
  • "The Unknown Stuntman" - Lee Majors (1981)*
  • "Square Pegs" - The Waitresses (1982)*
I'm of mixed mind on the "Theme from Charlie's Angels" (track 4) as I genuinely enjoy the song on the CD but its not the version I associate with the show and I would have certainly preferred the slightly longer 4:07 single version of "Theme from S.W.A.T." (track 3).  Revelations on this disc are the original "Wonder Woman" theme (track 5) in all of its campy red, white and blue glory and the disco-fied "Love Boat Theme" (track 7) from Jack Jones.  Still proud to say I have never watched a single scene or episode of Punky Brewster.
16 themes  38:33
My favorite tracks with 45 edits noted with a *:
  • "WKRP In Cincinnati" - Steve Carlisle (1981)*
  • "Theme from The Dukes Of Hazard (Good Ol' Boys)" - Waylon Jennings (1980)*
  • "Theme from "The Greatest American Hero" (Believe It Or Not)" - Joey Scarbury (1981)*
  • "Theme from the TV show :"Cheers" (Where Everybody Knows Your Name)" - Gary Portnoy (1982)*
  • "Miami Vice Theme" - Jan Hammer (1984)*
Easily the most disappointing of the three volumes for me as I never watched some of the shows and am therefore unfamiliar with their respective theme songs.  Also, there are some themes I would have preferred over some of the ones included, like Al Jarreau's Nile Rodgers produced theme from Moonlighting or the dreamy, reverb drenched theme from Twin Peaks.  Revelations on this disc include the full-length single version of the opening theme to W.K.R.P. In Cincinnati (track 1) as well as the clarinet infused full-length version of the theme from Cheers (track 9).  Disc loses major points and full street cred for including Dionne Warwick's ultra-lame rendition of "The Love Boat Theme", which everybody knows is why the show was cancelled.

While Christmas shopping in late November 1996, I came across volumes 4 and 5 of Television's Greatest Hits though I was ready for them after seeing the ad at the top of this post in a magazine somewhere.  I had my sights set on the next two volumes however, 6 and 7, as they featured themes from shows of the 70's and 80's (my inconsistency with naming decades is consistent with the source material I am referring to) but those discs were nowhere to be found on that day so I went home without selfishly buying anything for me, myself or I.
Tune in next time for a very special, commercial-free presentation of the series finale, 
featuring the final baker's dozen plus one 
television theme song compilations in my collection!


  1. I love the artwork on the three Rhine Tube Tunes albums. Definitely worth framing and hanging up on a wall somewhere if they were in full vinyl size.

    1. Drew Friedman is the credited artist

  2. I never would have suspected there was a market for all these different TV theme compilations. That Rhino "Tube Tune" series looks pretty good - I'll put it on my watch list.

    1. I had them when they were originally issued but later sold them. Bought them all again at $2 a disc USED from various Amazon vendors. All discs and artwork are in like new condition.