When I was five years old I used to pretend to be Batman by draping a blue towel over my shoulders and having my mom safety-pin the front two corners together. Almost 30 years later, my son does the same thing — some things never change. When Batman debuted on television in early 1966 it was an instant hit. People couldn’t get enough of the Caped Crusader and his sidekick Robin. Enthusiasm for the show spilled onto radio airwaves, where fans have been singing the masked ones praises ever since. Batmania – Songs Inspired By The Batman TV Series is a compilation of fifteen such songs, covering 40 years of tributes.
Fans of the television show will enjoy the appearances of original cast members on many of the songs included here. Adam West appears in the comedic songs “Miranda” (1966), “Batman and Robin”, and “The Story of Batman” (both from 1976). Burgess Meredith (as the Penguin) appears on both “The Capture” and “The Escape” while Frank Gorshin sings about his own capers in “The Riddler” (all from 1966). Most of these songs more closely resemble spoken-word poetry performed over generic music than actual songs.
Several of the tracks that appear on the compilation were written as tributes to the show’s characters by legitimate artists. “The Joker is Wild” by Jan and Dean, “Batman A Go Go” by the Combo Kings and “That Man” by Peggy Lee are all a little tough to take seriously, but are interesting nonetheless. Some of the other tracks play more like radio comedy skits, the strangest of which is Ratman and Bobin in the “Clipper Caper” by The Brothers Four, which, as the name implies, isn’t about Batman and Robin at all but rather their similarly named downstairs neighbors.
The remaining four tracks present different versions of the television shows theme song. The original television version by Neal Hefti makes an appearance, along with a slower, horn-laden version by Al Hirt, an 80s pop version by Dave Allan & the Arrows and an orchestral take by Joel McNeels and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus. Holy String Sections, Batman!
Batmania – Songs Inspired By The Batman TV Series includes a brief written history of Bat-related musical releases as well as a note about the recording of the song Miranda came about as told by Adam West (he was asked to sign a recording contract while lying in a hospital bed). Despite a great fondness for the show, it would be hard to recommend this disc to anyone but the most die hard bat-fans. Who needs four different interpretations of the original theme song? Most of the comedy bits aren’t that funny the first time through and are less so the second time around. Its definitely a must-have compilation for fans of the weird. I had no idea there were this many Batman-related songs released throughout the 60s and 70s, and after listening to this disc I now know why most of them have never resurfaced.
Bat-earplugs not included.
01. Batman Theme – Neal Hefti
02. The Story Of Batman – Adam West
03. The Capture – Burgess Meredith
04. Batman To The Rescue – LaVern Baker
05. Batman Theme – Al Hirt
06. Batman And Robin In The Clipper Caper – The Brothers Four
07. Batman A Go Go – Combo Kings
08. Miranda – Adam West
09. That Man – Peggy Lee
10. Batman Theme – Davie Allan & The Arrows
11. The Joker Is Wild – Jan & Dean
12. The Riddler – Frank Gorshin
13. The Escape – Burgess Meredith
14. Batman And Robin – Adam West
15. Batman Theme – Joel McNeely/Royal Scottish National Orchestra And Chorus