The Songs of Sodor

A Brief History of the Songs of Sodor!

The music of Thomas the Tank Engine has always been an integral part of the TV Series charm.  However, in 1993, the composers Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell went one step further and began writing and composing special songs for the series.

The Headmaster plays his old Organ

The new songs were first heard on a special CD / Cassette release, released in 1993.  The songs tied in with a special story which played between the new songs, with the different stages of the story being relevant to the subject matter of the songs themselves.  The story centred upon ‘The Best Kept Station Competition’, where Thomas was taking the Fat Controller all over the Island to visit every station on the railway, it was told by Michael Angelis.

The Best Dressed Station Competition
Storylines By Helen Knowles
(Released 1993)
1. Thomas’s Anthem (Thomas, We Love You)  
2. Gone Fishing
3. Really Useful Engine
4. That’s What Friends Are For
5. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
6. Toby
7. Let’s Have A Race
8. Rules & Regulations
9. The Island Song

Toby

The songs soon found their way onto the Thomas video releases of Series 4.  The only two which were never committed to music videos were ‘Rules and Regulations’ and ‘That’s What Friends Are For’.  Some of the songs such as Gone Fishing included specially-shot footage by David Mitton and his crew, but largely, went by existing scenes from episodes and some extended or unused scenes from episodes.

Gone Fishing!

After the success of the songs in the Series 4 releases, Britt Allcroft commissioned Mike and Junior to do more for Series 5.  Again, as Thomas was not being aired on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom or United States, these songs acted primarily as a means of giving children something extra to enjoy on the VHS releases and later, DVDs.

Special Mention: Thomas' Christmas Song
Performed by The Four Marks Beaver Scouts (Special 1996 Release)

Four Marks Beaver Scouts , Hampshire, England

In 1996, a special Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends video release: The Biggest Ever Christmas Collection included Thomas' Christmas Song, performed by the Four Marks Beaver Scouts from Hampshire, England. The song was part of a national competition sponsored by Britt Allcroft to write a Christmas song for Thomas. The Hampshire troupe won and was honoured by having Thomas' Chrsitmas Song filmed as a music video at the Watercress Railway Line in July, 1996 and included on the VHS release in November. This song was re-issued in 2002, however it was not included on the Australia and New Zealand edition videos.

SERIES 5 SONGS
(Released 1998)
  • Night Train
  • Accidents Will Happen
  • Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining (Never Lose Hope)
  • It's Great To Be An Engine!
  • The Snow Song
  • Donald's Duck
  • Sir Topham Hatt
  • Come For The Ride
  • Harold The Helicopter
  • Percy's Seaside Trip
  • Bill and Ben look for the Silver Lining...

    In both the UK and USA, a special VHS (Later a DVD in the USA) containing majority of the songs composed by Mike and Junior up until that point was released.  Again, the songs played upon character themes from the series, giving Bill and Ben the tank engine twins a music video - (Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining), they also paid tribute to a Series 3 storyline with Donald’s Duck, and songs such as Night Train went on to be used as underlying themes for the TV Series.

    The Snowy Controller (Snow Song)

    The Series 5 songs were placed onto audio cassette also to give them their own standing, with another special story told by Michael Angelis, with the dialogue and situations revolving around the subject matter of the songs themselves again.  This release went under the title of Surprise Adventures, and saw Thomas trying to deliver the post around the Island in the grips of Winter just after Christmas.  But all does not bode well, with Dilly the Duck becoming trapped on ice and Percy derailing from the track.  All the same, Thomas manages to get through with help from his friends.

    Really Useful Engine - Magic Railroad

    Thomas and the Magic Railroad saw a completely different composer step in to perform the music, this being Hummie Mann.  Hummie’s themes were all of his own original style, however, he was encouraged by Britt Allcroft to use as much Campbell & O’Donnell themes as he could.  A particularly welcoming addition to the film’s repertoire was a special new recording of Really Useful Engine, which was sung by front-man of the band, The Bare Naked Ladies, Steven Page, backed by a group of younger voices as per the standards of the Series.

    C Junior on a Summer Sunday

    The songs for the Movie came from a variety of singers and song-writers, including Britt Allcroft’s son, Ben Wright and his band – Oba Ben.  However, second to Steven Page, the most high-profile act involved on the soundtrack was the UK Girl Band, Atomic Kitten, who performed a cover-version of Kylie Minogue’s The Locomotion.  The song was never realised as a single, but it did feature in the end credits of the movie.  Full interviews with some of the singers and songwriters involved on the Movie’s soundtrack can be found on the Magic Railroad Mini Site. 

    THOMAS & THE MAGIC RAILROAD
    Original Soundtrack
    (Released 2000)
  • Really Useful Engine - Performed by Steven Page
  • Some Things Never Leave You - Performed by Joe Henry
  • Main Title - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • Lily Travels to the Island of Sodor - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • Burnett and Lady/Diesel 10 and Splodge - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • Diesel 10 Threatens Mr. C/Lily and Patch - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • Through the Magic Buffers - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • Shining Time - Performed by Maren Ord
  • I Know How the Moon Must Feel  - Performed by Dayna Manning
  • Summer Sunday - Performed by Ben Wright / Dominic Gibson / Dominic Goundar / Gerard McLachlan / Rob Jenkins
  • The Locomotion - Performed by Atomic Kitten
  • Chase, the Clue and the Happy Ending - Hummie Mann (Theme)
  • James, the Really Splendid Engine

    Following the Movie, the TV Series returned, and brand new songs were composed by Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell.  However, after the takeover by HIT Entertainment in 2002, the endorsement and release of the songs and music videos dwindled.  In the UK, since 2002, only one of the Series 6 songs – Winter Wonderland – has been on an official DVD / VHS release.  While the release of the songs continued in the United States, not all of the songs have been released in that territory either.  However, a special VCD release from Asia, copies of which cropped up on E-Bay have provided some solace to the UK fans who would otherwise not have been able to view or hear the new songs.

    SERIES 6 SONGS
    (Produced 2002)

  • James The Really Splendid Engine
  • Little Engines
  • Down by the Docks
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Boo!, Boo! Choo-Choo
  • Never, Never Give Up
  • Five New Engines In The Shed

    The songs for Series 7 largely paid tribute to the new characters introduced to the fold.  Salty the Dockyard Diesel and Fergus the Railway Traction Engine both received their own songs and music videos, while the Red Balloon from Series 6 was also given the treatment.  Series 7 was to be the last series to feature Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell on the production staff.  They left the series having produced 39 songs and innumerable themes for Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.  The format of the upcoming Series 8 would see a new composer and song-writer introduced.

    Two special CDs featuring some of the songs composed and written by Mike and Junior have been released in the UK and USA.  They are Thomas’s Train Yard Tracks and Roundhouse Rhythms.

    SERIES 7 SONGS
    (Produced 2003)

  • Five New Engines in the Shed
  • The Red Balloon
  • There Once Was an Engine Who Ran Away
  • Troublesome Trucks
  • Salty
  • The Whistle Song
  • Gordon, Emily and Thomas

    In 2004, Ed Welch took over the production of new songs for the TV Series.  Ed has worked on numerous TV programmes, composing hundreds of themes as well as songs.  For the first HIT Entertainment produced series, the emphasis was placed upon external themes, relevant to those being explored in the half-hour blocks airing on PBS and Nick Jr (UK) and not as much upon characters or situations as Mike and Junior had done before him.  However, Gordon and Emily did manage to get their own songs throughout Series 8.

    Gordon gets a Surprise...

    And as Ed Welch worked independently of the new composer, Robert Hartshorne, the songs that he composed the series did not feature as part of the TV Series’ new themes.  However, one of Ed’s themes did end up as the new theme tune for the Series, Engine Roll Call, which would be played at the end of every half-hour block as a constant feature of the TV Series.

    SERIES 8 SONGS
    (Produced 2004)

  • Sounds
  • Emily
  • Surprises
  • A World Around You
  • Determination
  • Patience
  • Ode to Gordon
  • Engine Roll Call
  • The New Tidmouth Sheds - CAE

    The first HIT Entertainment produced special – Calling All Engines – released in 2005 for the 60th Anniversary of Thomas and Friends, saw yet more songs composed by Ed Welch, all of which were relevant to what was going on in the storyline.  This was the first time also that Engine Roll Call would be changed, with the lyrics and footage altered to accommodate Diesel 10, the storyline situation and the new Sodor Airport.  It also marked the first appearance of the new 7-road Tidmouth Sheds in the Engine Roll Call song.

    CALLING ALL ENGINES - SONGS
    (Produced 2004)

  • Busy
  • Trying (Trying to Do Things Better)
  • The Dream Song (DVD Bonus Feature)
  • Together (Together We Made it Happen)
  • New Engine Roll Call
  • Henry and Edward - Togetherness (Song)

    Series 9 continued with the same routine of having Ed Welch produce songs that were relevant to situations and storyline themes in the half-hour blocks.  Series 9 however, saw Ed using an interactive interstitial to draw influence from to produce the song, Togetherness, which centred around Edward and Henry working together to get their job done.

    SERIES 9 SONGS
    (Produced 2005)

    • Brave
    • Day and Night
    • Party Time
    • Pride
    • Every Day's a Special Day
    • Sharing (Buffer Up and Share)
    • Togetherness
    • The Work Song
    • One Friendly Family

    Alfie digs foundations in The Work Song

    Prior to the release of Series 10 in either the UK or USA, special Direct-To-DVD releases were made with Jack and the Pack, the Sodor Construction Crew episodes filmed in 2003 while Phil Fherle was still Producer.  Especially for the release, Ed Welch composed a new song, The Work Song which was based around the activities of Jack and his Construction Crew friends.  So far, this song has only been released in the United States.

    Series 10 has been the final series that Ed has composed a complete set of new songs for.  However, he would remain involved with Thomas and Friends in 2007.

    SERIES 10 SONGS
    (Produced 2006)

    • Doing it Right
    • Favorite Place
    • Harold (H is for Harold)
    • Navigation
    • Old and New (There's Always Something New)
    • Responsibility (Happy and Sad)
    • Strength

    Sir Handel at the Transfer Yard

    In 2007, Ed Welch produced a special song for the Direct-To-DVD release, Engines and Escapades, which was poised to centre directly upon the Narrow Gauge Engines, with six episodes due to air in Series 11 being released as a special DVD release instead.  This would be his only contribution to Series 11, which would repeat previous material such as songs and interstitials in the TV Broadcast.

    DIRECT-TO-DVD SONGS
    (Produced 2006 and 2007)

    • The Work Song (Jack and The Pack - 2006)
    • Narrow Gauge Engines Song (Engines & Escapades - 2007)

    The Rebuilding of Great Waterton

    Ed Welch’s final contributions to the Series so far have been part of the final model animation special – The Great Discovery.  Again, the same principle was applied here as had been previously in Calling All Engines, with relevant songs breaking up the storyline.  This also featured a slightly altered version of Engine Roll Call to accommodate Stanley, the new engine introduced in the course of the Special.  He would not compose any new songs for Series 12, which again relied upon repeating previous material from Series 8 to 10, and would have no part in 2009 special, Hero Of The Rails.

    THE GREAT DISCOVERY SONGS
    (Produced 2007)

    • Racing to the Wharf (Thomas and James are Racing - US/Canadian Title)
    • Jobs a Plenty (There's a Job for Everyone - US/Canadian Title)
    • Where, Oh Where is Thomas?
    • Engine Roll Call (Altered with "Henry, Toots and Edward puffs..." and "Stanley, He's the New One There...")
    • Thomas, You're the Leader! (Roll Call Rap)

    Thomas, You're The Leader

    The Great Discovery release also marked the beginning of something new, with special songs being composed and written in different genres and styles.  The first of these was Thomas – You’re The Leader” produced and arranged by Peter Woodroffe and Charlie Grant as a rap / hip-hop piece, played over the end of the credits for The Great Discovery feature.  The song came as a surprise to many, but was well-received by fans who enjoyed the departure from the usual Thomas song fayre.  A remixed version of Thomas – You’re The Leader featured in the Series 13 CGI release in 2010.

    Go Go Thomas!

    In 2009, members from Sodor Island Forums in the UK were invited to the Premiere of the 2009 CGI Special, Hero Of The Rails.  There, we were able to get a few quick words from Robert Hartshorne, who had composed, arranged and written the only song of the feature, Go Go Thomas!  Robert admitted that when he first started working on the series, he didn’t want to write music aimed directly at children.  Therefore, as per the tradition set by The Great Discovery, he went on to write a 1950s style Rock ‘n’ Roll piece instead, which would appeal to both children and adults.  The song was performed by Sam Blewitt.

    Thomas sings along with Roary

    2009 also saw Thomas take part in a very special song for the BBC’s Children In Need, along with an assortment of other British animated characters such as Postman Pat, Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, the Wombles, Bagpuss, Fifi and the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car.  This song was not only significant because of the A-List Cast, but because it marked a few very special things for Thomas specifically.  It was the first new production that the model animation was used in since the official switch to CGI, it was the first production outwith Series 12 to feature Thomas’s model with CGI implements, and it was the first time in 20 years that Ringo Starr had voiced the character!

    The Fat Controller eats cake at Silverhatch!

    Ringo returned to the role briefly to provide the vocals on Thomas’s singing for the song, along with the likes of Bernard Cribbins, who returned after an even longer break to voice the Wombles!  Upon its initial charting, the single reached No.18 in the UK charts, but soared the following week to achieve the No.1 spot, knocking The X Factor Finalists (2009) off the top spot with their charity single, covering the Michael Jackson hit, You Are Not Alone.

    SERIES 13 SONGS
    (Produced 2009)

    • Go Go Thomas (Hero Of The Rails - performed by Sam Blewitt)
    • Roll Along
    • Thomas, You're The Leader (Re-Edit)

    Thomas - You're The Leader... in CGI!

    With the CGI relaunch of 2009, Robert Hartshorne took over control of the songs for the series.  In the same spirit as Go, Go Thomas! he produced a new song for the new Series 13, Roll Along, which is another Rock ‘n’ Roll venture with the same vocalist from Go, Go Thomas! as opposed to using the vocals of the children.  In addition, an edited version of Thomas – You’re The Leader” featured on the Splish Splash Splosh DVD release - ommitting the mentions of the Narrow Gauge Engines and Stanley, neither of whom were committed to CGI rendering just yet.

    Thomas and Rosie splish splash splosh!

    A number of Ed Welch’s songs from Series 8 to 10 were also re-released with CGI footage in the music videos, however, unlike before there was no new dedicated footage for the songs, with visuals coming directly from scenes used in the TV Series owing to time constraints placed upon Nitrogen Studios for Series 13.  Nevertheless, the re-heating of the existing content was giving Robert Hartshorne time to consider new material for the upcoming Series 14, and to experiment with new genres away from the tried and tested style.

    MISTY ISLAND RESCUE / SERIES 14 SONGS
    (Produced 2010)

    • Misty Island Rescue
    • All You Need
    • Sir Topham Hatt (US / Canada title) The Fat Controller (UK / AUS title)

    Thomas on Misty Island with the Logging Locos

    Robert Hartshorne continued to develop his craft for the new ‘Thomas’ songs for Series 14 and the 2010 Special – Misty Island Rescue.  By continuing to use adult vocalists such as Stefan Ashton Frank (vocalist for the Misty Island Rescue song), he diversified the genres he used for the new songs, with the use of country and western (Misty Island Rescue), jazz (Sir Topham Hatt Song / The Fat Controller Song) as well as pop (All You Need).  Sam Blewitt made a return for a third time as the vocalist for The Fat Controller Song, whilst the vocalist for All You Need is as yet uncredited.

    DAY OF THE DIESELS / SERIES 15 SONGS
    (Produced 2010/11)

    • Hear The Engines Coming
    • Day Of The Diesels

    Percy and Diesel 10

    For the 15th Series of the show, Robert only produced one song, but nonetheless, it was quite a catchy, poppy and cheerful one called Hear The Engines coming. However, for the Day Of The Diesels song, he collaborated for the first time with his son, Peter, who was credited alongside his father for the song and the underscore for the 2011 special.  This was one of the first contributions that Peter has made to the series. Sam Blewitt returned once again to sing the signature theme for the movie, which was based on 50s style rock and roll, in the same style as the Go Go Thomas song from Hero of the Rails.

    BLUE MOUNTAIN MYSTERY / SERIES 16 SONGS
    (Produced 2011/12)

    • Thomas & Percy
    • Working Together
    • Blue Mountain Mystery
    • Go Go Thomas (Re-edit)

    The songs from the sixteenth season saw the arrival of a song about the friendship between Thomas and Percy, whilst the Blue Mountain Mystery special saw two songs produced; Working Together, and was the first time in five years to feature a song between story narration, and the Blue Mountain Mystery song featured at the end of the movie, all once again performed by Sam Blewitt, whilst Go Go Thomas was remastered with new lyrics.

    KING OF THE RAILWAY / SERIES 17 SONGS
    (Produced 2013)

    • It's Gonna Be a Great Day
    • Working Together (Again)
    • Searching Everywhwere
    • Hey! Hey! Thomas
    • On a Journey Today

    2013 saw two new songs for the newest special for King of the Railway, the first being the closing credits song It's Gonna be a Great Day. An original version had been released ahead of the specials' release by its writer Joe Phillips. The first version was longer and was sung by Phillips himself, but later shortened with a change of lyrics  with the final version sung entirely by Sam Blewitt. Blewitt also provided the vocals for Searching Everywhere, written by Robert Hartshorne whilst the Blue Mountain Mystery song Working Together was brought back and tweaked to fit in for Thomas, James and Percy's journey to Ulfstead Castle.
     
    During broadcasts of Season 17, not one, but two new songs were screened; Hey, Hey Thomas and On a Journey Today. The songs were written and performed by newcomers in the Thomas scene, vocalist Mike Ferfolia and music group Eggplant LF, who had previously worked with HiT Entertainment before writing the end credits song for the Fireman Sam song He's Our Friend, featured in the 2009 special, The Great Fire of Ponty Pandy.