Off the Record

The Read-Along book n’ record was a children’s staple in the 70s and 80s. It allowed kids to have all the fun of a cartoon, without taking up valuable TV time and disrupting mum’s Coronation Street.jazzk1

I had a whole bunch of these, mostly from Ladybird. They were a little bit cack, especially the ones based on popular cartoons like Transformers, but I loved them anyway. At least, they never approached the awfulness that was Sun Raid – a story that sounded like it was recorded in a shipping container outside Hong Kong.

I no longer own a cassette player, so my story tapes have gone unplayed for many years. Eager to listen to them once more, I took to Youtube on the off chance that someone digitised and uploaded them.

On my travels, I came across a He-Man story record. I clicked it more out of curiosity than anything else, but I’m glad I did, as it’s fantastic.

I’ve mentioned it before on these hallowed pages, but I needed to go back and give it another go. If you have the time, then get comfy and listen to this. You won’t regret it.

The theme song goes on for no less than five minutes. I listened to this with my friends, and we couldn’t help cracking up. Every time you think the song’s coming to an end, it starts up again. Then the narrator begins describing Eternia… in excruciating detail. Play a little drinking game if you like – every time he says the word “Eternia”, you drink. You’ll be smashed before he’s done.

When he’s finished you’ll feel like it’s a real place. I was fairly convinced I’d been there on holiday. It’s a full ten minutes before an actual character speaks and the story begins. I won’t spoil it, just know that it’s really quite good. Even if they do get He-Man’s mantra wrong.

The second side begins just as the first, with the incredibly earnest narrator setting the scene. For a moment I thought the music was going to start again, but it doesn’t. Take your headphones off at the finale, as Skeletor lets out a horrifying scream that’ll give you nightmares.

Keep your ears open for the narrator’s final words, though. They’re beautiful. I reckon they engraved them on a plaque at the recording studio. A small excerpt: –

“He-Man knew at that moment that the battle would never be truly over, in his heart, he knew that he would struggle all his life against the cowards and bullies who mistake gentleness and concern for weakness and fear.”

And then the theme song starts again!

“Convinced I’d been”


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