Picks and Pans Review: Tube Tunes—vols. 1-3

updated 08/21/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Various Artists

Pop music can act like a snapshot—a few notes from a familiar song and memories come flooding back. Even corny TV themes have power, because week after week these ditties insidiously seep into our brains. These three volumes of TV music from the '70s and '80s are like an entire photo gallery of kitsch.

Purely as music some of this stuff holds up well—for instance, John Sebastian's cheery Sweathog salute, "Welcome Back," Jan Hammer's pulse-quickening "Miami Vice Theme," Jose Feliciano's surprisingly resonant theme from the all-but-forgotten Chico and the Man and the brazen "Theme from S.W.A.T." That last anthem was by an obscure studio aggregation called Rhythm Heritage. Later that same year (1976) the group would again climb the charts with the theme music from Baretta, which is not included here.

You may have forgotten things like David Cassidy doing a bad Boz Scaggs imitation on "Hard Times (Hard Crimes)," the theme from his little-seen 1978-79 series, David Cassidy—Man Undercover. You may want to forget David Naughton's disco drivel "Ma-kin' It" or "Three's Company," muddily warbled by actor Alan Thicke and Julie Rinker.

As you wade through good and bad, you may feel something is missing. Shouldn't the cuts be interspersed with commercial jingles, just to make the experience complete? (Rhino)

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