Various Artists ‎– Saturday Morning (Cartoons’ Greatest Hits)

Label: Geffen

Produced by: Ralph Sall

Your mileage may vary, likely exclusively based on how swayed you are by nostalgia. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is a conkin’ idea: to have all of your cool, favorite bands – plus those that you maybe only casually acknowledge as cool, but definitely don’t mind having on a comp – covering those classic cartoon theme songs from either the era these youngsters of today no longer remember, or the shows that you binged on as reruns a decade later, or series that you’ve post-ironically come to love and yet have never seen but have somehow absorbed the music from. Whatever the case, the stack here is admirable, going through all the “standards” (Spider-Man, Popeye) with some slightly enough off the beaten track themes (Gigantor, Sigmund And The Seamonsters) to prove bona fides, covered by the near and far of 90s certified radsters like Matthew Sweet, and Butthole Surfers, and Violent Femmes.

This all checks out.

But: while all of these groups chose well, and sound like themselves, the vast majority of these offerings really don’t do much with the material. Sure, maybe that’s so-and-so, clearly singing, and they’ve added in good production and distorted guitars, but otherwise, a lot of these 20 tracks are fairly straight covers, which is where the notalgia value comes in. This was a consistently purchased album at the record shoppe, and it was not-rarely accompanied by someone telling me that they remembered all the shows from the comp; that was the appeal. I watched a fair amount of these (I’m in the rerun camp, mostly), but perhaps didn’t form many strong bonds (save with Ren and Stimpy, which is thankfully one of the best jobs here, punked and sassed up to the max by Wax); as such, an hour or whatever of boppy cartoon tracks doesn’t do much for me.

Individually, as a bonus song on each artists’ individual albums, these could be a lot of fun; and the performances are not dialed in – I’m sure they were fun for to play. But put altogether, you’d almost be better off with a compilation of the originals, save those few where a group’s attitude informs / changes the nature of the track: Sublime’s is excellent; Reverend Horton Heat is all energy; Frente! overy-joys the Flinstones track…

Such flair is the rarity, though, and without the aforementioned nostalgia, this stuff falls into an “amusing” camp, but not necessarily inherently valuable otherwise. The liner notes are nice and detailed and enthusiastic, though, so points also to the comp’s creators for surely being very enthused by the project as well.