matt berry and the maypoles

I’ll be honest with you when I say that the thought of a Matt Berry album featuring TV Themes appealed a tad to our more impish side, such appeal turning to worry when we noted with a degree of concerned curiosity that tracks such as ‘are you being served’, ‘rainbow’, ‘blankety blank’ and ‘sorry’ where up for review, hell’s teeth cheesy or what. Mind you, all said, ‘television themes’ seems to have found itself a niche corner in a market that, at present, in some quarters at least, appears to revel in these nostalgic library releases – see ‘unusual sound’ and ‘moodsetters’. Kitschy, daft and cheesy (again) – tick, tick and tick, even down to the sleeve which aside reminding me of the artwork that graced the covers of those mid 70’s Dr Who books published by Target, will, once done with, be finding a special place in the collection, loitering alongside my hush hush stash of ‘TV Themes’ as played by Geoff Love, we all have skeletons, the fact that I was a pre school child is my excuse, what’s yours? As said, we approached this set cautiously, ‘are you being served’ opening the proceedings, I mean talk about a jump in the dark, if this went belly up, then the rest of the set might suffer as a consequence. Do you know, it actually works and works a treat at that, its mild mannered retailing middle classicism subtly replaced by a cosmopolitan styled lounge lilting which had we been none the wiser would have said was the work of a ‘mysterious pony’ era Emperor Penguin in a studio séance with the Superimposers. Better still usually disarming and safe ‘the good life’ is given a wiggy retread that momentarily wrong turns down a jazzy rabbit hole before recovering in time to hand the baton for a disturbingly kooky and way too much fun having version of ‘blankety blank’ replete with fuzzy detours. Up next, ‘top of the pops’ – the Phil and Midge version, wasn’t it called ‘yellow pearl’ – anyhow, on a personal level I  always had something of a soft spot for this, here found given a noticeably breathier and spacier overhaul with the generous piping of cosmic flotillas. Treated to marching beats, ‘picture box’ – incidentally one of the best things here – does quite seem as a alarming as it once was, used to creep the bejezus out of me as a young ‘un, especially love the astral waltz interlude. ‘the liver birds’ I never cared for, still don’t, probably never will, safe to say we do quite find a fond warmth radiating for Berry’s revamped variant here decorated in a delectably airy and dreamy pastoral posy, likewise with ‘rainbow’ – maybe its with advancing years that this has somehow, in the intervening years, spawned a nostalgic charm of its own with Berry and his Maypoles applying all manner of Free Design-y like cuteness to its age weathered grooves. Ah, ‘Dr Who’ – now had the new series not beat him to the punch, this would have earned track of the collection, both returning through time to mainline the minimalistic tonalities of the classic Troughton / Hartnell years. ‘World in Action’ – what can I say, impeccably nailed, the central coda just sends shivers through the spine and the way this just takes flight – bliss. ‘sorry’ – again something else I’ve always had a tender spot for, that and ‘ever decreasing circles’ – not here incidentally – which away from work at the moment as I am, I’m finding myself re-watching on some yesteryear TV schedule, this version given a dub-esque dusting with some nifty wah wah and trumpet motifs. I’m always reminded of sleep when I hear ‘the open university’ ident, rushing to get to off button before the scary chin stroking Mathematics lecturer with complimentary tank top and hairy ears starts his blankly droning snoozeville talk. Talking of idents you also get the ‘LWT’ and ‘Thames Television’ cues while for us, best of the gathering is without doubt, ‘Wildtrak’ here treated to a wonderfully woozy and smiley faced sun shiny slice of cheer which had us minded of a seriously kooky and willfully impish Papernut Cambridge. Essential, as though you really needed to ask.      


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