Thunderbird 6 is, for anyone who really doesn't know, a Gerry Anderson puppet adventure featuring the famed futuristic global rescue team International Rescue in a story involving the inaugural round-the-world voyage of a new type of airship.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the death of composer Barry Gray, and the cinema release of the new Thunderbirds film is this first ever release of the soundtrack to the second Thunderbirds feature film from the 1960's, Thunderbird 6 (1968). No, there wasn't a Thunderbirds 2, 3, 4 or 5. The first film spun off from the Thunderbirds TV series was Thunderbirds Are Go (1966). The 6 of the sequel's title referred to the "new" rescue vehicle which joined International Rescue's line-up of five existing craft.
The score, for 56 piece orchestra mixes Gray's already familiar Thunderbirds' themes and suspense/action underscoring motifs with typically 1960's lounge jazz and humorous pastiches offering local ethnic colour for the various places visited on the global tour. In a cue such as 'Brains Destroys Prototype #1' material changes with Mickey-Mouse rapidity, comedy motifs, fragments of famous melodies and Gray's own Thunderbirds' themes mixing and matching in a way which makes little sense away from the screen. Sensibilities can change from tongue-in-cheek comedy to faux serious in a moment, such that the whole is something of a delight for serious fans of Thunderbirds and the composer, an admirable exercise in highly professional arrangement and pastiche for anyone else.
Any disc which offers light 'Ballroom Jazz', a source cue of 'Indian Street Music' (skilfully weaving in a fragment of the main Thunderbirds theme) and Carry On style musical japery amid the expected suspense adventure music all in a brief 37 minutes is bound to be a very mixed bag. For instance 'Diner Aboard Skyship' is a lovely jazzy piece somewhere between romantic Barry and Morricone, yet it is rapidly followed by mock Arabic music in 'A Visit to Egypt' which plays all the musical stereotypes and clichés for everything they are worth, complete with comedy trumpet wha-wha and hint of 'London Bridge is Falling Down'… Indeed, one of the pleasures of the album is playing 'Name That Tune' as various melodies fly by.
It's all very well crafted, expertly and ingeniously orchestrated, but rather lacking in the more serious (relatively speaking) action suspense writing of the Thunderbirds TV series itself. Even the famous march theme itself is denied a full length treatment. But then for that and much more Silva Screen offer two anthologies, the most recent of which is reviewed this month on Film Music on the Web, as indeed is the soundtrack to the new Thunderbirds film.
Presentation and sound quality are excellent but this really is a release for Thunderbirds completists and Barry and Gerry Anderson aficionados.