The rather awkwardly titled, difficult-to-find This Is The Return Of Cult Fiction is part of a series of successful compilations, by Virgin, exploiting the mid-1990s easy-listening revival (alongside This Is Cult Fiction, This Is Easy, This Is Cult Fiction Royale and This Is Son Of Cult Fiction). This fairly enjoyable, CD-filling 78 minute collection of original recordings of jazzy and funky American and British film and TV themes - ranging from the mid- to late-twentieth century - is liable to provoke Proustian recollections and Pavlovian responses in its audience.
The 36 unedited selections are generally tantalisingly short: some come in at under a minute and a half. Highlights include Dennis Waterman's cheery theme song from Minder 'I Could Be So Good For You', Alan Hawkshaw's seminal Grange Hill theme, London Studio Symphony Orchestra's swinging number to The Professionals, and the jarring, discordant music from children's TV programme Roobarb and Custard. Choices are pooled from an endearingly wide variety of sources - you get material from the serious art-house porn of Last Tango In Paris here as well as the music-hall smutty comedy of On the Buses. The result is a pleasing diversity of musical styles arranged here, with vocal selections such as Julie London's soaring 'Fly Me To The Moon' and Jacky's galloping 'White Horse' coalescing neatly with subtle, darker sounding orchestral pieces from big-name composers like Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone.
But bombastic choices like 'Wonderwoman' and Mike Post's clearly dated theme to Magnum P.I; the occasional variance in the quality of the mastering, and the self-consciously kitsch presentation and sleeve-notes undermine this product a bit. You really shouldn't have to feel the need to don a Bri-Nylon shirt, drink Martinis, or wear a thick veil of irony to appreciate the quality of the majority of these well-crafted tele-cine tunes.