March 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s CHOICE March 2003

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Thunderbirds  
Music composed by Barry Gray
  Available on Silva Screen Records (FILMCD 606)  
Running Time: 61:10
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

thunderbirds

Competition

Thinking any obvious answers would be found on-line in a few seconds I obviously made last month's Thunderbirds competition too difficult and as a result there were no winners! Sorry about that. So, in the interests of giving away two copies of Silva Screen's superb album simply email me at gsdalkin.fmw@btopenworld.com with your suggestion for the ideal composer for the forthcoming Thunderbirds movie. Explain why he or she should score the movie and the most thoughtful, imaginative, provocative or just plain interesting two entries will win. Please remember to include your postal address. Closing date: April 10 2003. (Editor - Gary Dalkin)

Review

Barry Gray is a true example of the unsung hero, a composer who fashioned his own distinctive musical voice in the most unlikeliest of places, a puppet TV series. But of course, as most of us know, this was no ordinary series, this was the innovative brainchild of the celebrated Gerry Anderson, a would-be children’s television programme that would change the way we all perceive such things. And really, the style of the music tells us all we need to know about the real intent behind the series. This was not to be some throwaway, light children’s fare, it was designed to work as a serious, dramatic adventure. The fact that all of the characters had very visible strings attached was inconsequential. And Barry Gray’s tense, incredibly dramatic, exciting music carried the whole enterprise along, giving what could have been vaguely silly spectacles a certain gravitas and aiding the audience to suspend their disbelief. His now legendary ‘Main Titles’ theme, with its famous countdown opening has become a cultural icon, but what impresses the most is the depth of quality in the music across the entire series, even allowing for the fact that a lot of the music was carefully rearranged and recycled for many episodes. Here on this CD though we are given the chance to savour the original work as written for the early episodes, with plenty of instantly recognisable themes and motifs (particularly if you grew up watching Thunderbirds as I did) and just as much that is less familiar but just as noteworthy.

The liner notes are also worthwhile, with an interesting summary by Ralph Titterton of how Gray’s material was painstakingly salvaged and organised, paving the way for this release. Truthfully there are no reasons I can think of not to purchase a copy of this CD immediately and the variety and imagination of the work may well surprise even those who think they are well-acquainted with Thunderbirds. All that remains to be said is bring on Captain Scarlet!

Mark Hockley

****(*)

Gary Dalkin adds:-

There is little I can usefully add to Mark's review. This is not just a nostalgic delight for all ex-children of a certain age, but a splendid album of music which had it been penned for a big screen epic adventure would now be considered a landmark score. Given the age of the material the sound is superb too. An album which belongs in every collection of film and television music.

Gary S Dalkin

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