January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

John WILLIAMS (My Friend Mr Nobody)

Hans J. SALTER, Herman STEIN, and Richard LaSALLE (The Derelict)

The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen Vol. VII – Lost in Space GDP-CESCENDO GNPD-8062 [69:07]

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Presumably driven by nostalgia fuelled by endless repeats on satellite and cable television, there now seems to be an un-ending stream of albums related to old TV shows. Given that science fiction seems to engender more enthusiastic fans than any other genre, and that SF fans often have an insatiable collector's instinct, it becomes inevitable that many of these albums relate to TV SF.

Lost in Space was an Irwin Allen production, and this colourfully packaged GNP Crescendo release is Volume VII of The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen, as well as Volume Three of the Lost in Space soundtracks, a sub-series of The Fantasy Worlds issues (which also include volumes devoted to The Time Tunnel and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). This album, which comes with notes by Executive Producer Kevin Burns, and two of the stars of the show, Angela Cartwright and Jonathan Harris, features the music from Lost in Space most requested by the fans. The episodes The Derelict and My Friend, Mr Nobody.

The Derelict is a patchwork score, with the early cues composed by either Herman Stein or Richard LaSalle, and most of the later ones by Hans J. Salter. Though Richard LaSalle's brief 'The Robot Performs' apparently contains themes composed by John Williams, and Williams also composed the hopelessly cheesy title theme included in this suite. While the notes tell us that the music from this suite did not often reappear in the series later on, it evokes clear memories of generic television music from the 1960's. It is all perfectly functional, mysterious, atmospheric suspense music, and would really seem appropriate to any of a thousand TV shows, from westerns to thrillers to dramas. Evocative of it's time, there is absolutely nothing wrong here, but it bears little interest as pure music. No doubt with the added benefit of nostalgia, it will delight die-hard fans of Lost in Space.

More general film music fans will doubtless to particularly interested in My Friend Mr. Nobody, being early science fiction music from a certain Mr. John Williams. Unfortunately, including the already mentioned title music, the John Williams music on this disc amounts to only 24 minutes. It is certainly better music than that for The Derelict, and contains enough hints of greater things to come to be of interest to the serious Williams fan - spot pre-echoes of any number of scores, from Jane Eyre to Jaws, Star Wars, Dracula and Empire of the Sun, to name but a few. Mysterious, lyrical, playful, tender, clearly Williams was developing his popular style here, even constrained by the impossibly tight deadlines of TV scoring. This is not great John Williams, by any stretch of the imagination, and there are none of the wonderful unforgettable melodies which we think of when we think of this composer. But if you love his music and know it well, you will find this worth hearing. How often you will play it is another matter.

The sound is mono, of limited dynamic range, but clear, without distortion and with minimal tape hiss. The album also contains a bonus track, the unused (and negligible) second season title music composed by Warren Barker. For the dedicated fan of Lost in Space, this disc would appear to be an essential purchase, equally so for the serious John Williams fan who has everything, including money to spend on fulfilling curiosity. Otherwise, despite all the obvious love and care which has gone into this release, this is not a disc I can really recommend.


Gary S. Dalkin


Gary S. Dalkin

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