Who: Eric Thompson and his Friends
What: Three Songs From Dougal and the Blue Cat ("Florence it's a Lovely Morning!"/ "Florence's Sad Song"/ "Success! King Buster")
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street, London
Label: Surprise Surprise/ Music for Pleasure
Cost: One pound
Like most second hand children's records, this was found in a slightly scuffed up condition - the rear of the sleeve is also only partly coloured in by some particularly idle child who couldn't be bothered to finish what he or she started. Whoever they were, I'll bet they are neither an artist nor a Captain of Industry now, and that's for sure.
"Dougal and the Blue Cat" was a particularly eerie "Magic Roundabout" spin-off film from 1972, following the adventures of everyone's favourite animated Skye Terrier as the arrival of a sinister Blue Cat creates havoc in the garden. This EP sees Eric Thompson sing his way through three of the tunes from the motion picture, and whilst it didn't chart, it was certainly popular enough in my school to be owned by a number of children in my class.
The highlight of the EP is the rather despairing "Florence's Sad Song" which underlines the slightly absurd and almost chilling nature of much of the film, as a fascistic feline attempts to punish the previously happy characters if they happen not to be blue. Since the nineties when "The Magic Roundabout" suddenly got adopted by a bunch of candy ravers, there's been a revisionist tendency to refer to the series as having "cheeky drug connotations". As much as we can all giggle at Dylan the Rabbit 'watching the mushrooms grow', it is ridiculously unlikely this was ever the intent, and we may as well ask why those devious folkies Rod, Jane and Freddy were parachuted into "Rainbow" with their long hair and beards, or (to use a modern analogy) whether "Bob the Builder" is using cocaine or amphetamines to keep himself going through the long shifts. Well, it would explain the Britpoppish leanings of his single, wouldn't it, eh? Nudge nudge nudge? The reality is rather more boring, and whilst "The Magic Roundabout" definitely used some adult references and contemporary stylings to keep the grown-ups watching as well, drugs did not feature in the gameplan - although the conspiracy theorists may like to point and chuckle at the fact that Lupus Music published this EP, who were of course also Syd Barrett's publishers.
All that said, "Dougal and The Blue Cat" is a flight of fantasy which ranks up there with some of the best animated work ever made, and is worth a sniff on YouTube for the curious, whatever your age is. This EP is a nice little companion piece, if a slightly scratched one. Eric Thompson may not have the most wonderful singing voice in the world, but his charm carries the work along well.