Space 1999 was a Gerry Anderson live action science fiction series, launched in the mid-1970's, and the most expensive and lavishly produced such show to that date. Despite its utterly absurd premise (the moon is blown out of earth orbit, drifts through the galaxy, and the occupants of Moonbase Alpha have a new adventure each week) the show remains one of the more thoughtful, intelligent and absorbing of all television SF series, the best episodes balancing atmospheric metaphysical drama with spectacular high adventure. Two seasons were produced, the first being infinitely superior to the second. The music on this extremely well filled disc all comes from that first outstanding season.
The majority of the music is by Barry Gray, who for well over a decade had been Gerry Anderson's main composer of choice, penning the scores and memorable themes for the likes of Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO. See the links above for FMOTW's reviews of Silva Screen's recent issues of music from two of those programmes.
Space 1999 marked Gray's last music for the screen, and a Musician's Union rule meant he was allowed only to score five episodes in every 13, resulting in the use of several other composers, library tracks, cues composed for previous Gerry Anderson productions, and several classical pieces. Contemporary with the show an LP was issued in America, but no music from the programme appeared on CD until a members only 2CD set produced by the Gerry Anderson fan club, Fanderson, appeared in 1998. This set contained (see Space1999.net ) the following:
"The complete Year One score by Barry Gray, digitally mastered in stereo from the original multi-track master tapes in Studio 2 at Abbey Road. Album produced by Tim Mallett. 24 page full colour booklet with complete details of each track and recording dates. 2hrs 23mins 55secs running time, comprising:
- Series main titles and end titles, plus alternative recordings for both.
- The score for episodes Breakaway, Matter Of Life And Death, Black Sun and Another Time, Another Place - the only episodes with an original score.
- Gray's percussion score for The Full Circle
- Additional material composed by Gray for the earlier Gerry Anderson series that featured in Space:1999 (Missing Link, Alpha Child, The Last Sunset, Collision Course and Death's Other Dominion among others)
- Vic Elms & Alan Willis' score for Ring Around The Moon
- Jim Sullivan's score for The Troubled Spirit
- 18 tracks from Chappell's music library that appeared in episodes such as Guardian Of Piri, Force Of Life, End Of Eternity, War Games, The Infernal Machine, Mission Of The Darians and The Testament Of Arkadia.
- Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War" and Albinoni's "Adagio for Organ and Cello in G Minor" used in Space Brain and Dragon's Domain respectively, from EMI and Delyse Envoy."
The new album is produced by Tim Mallett and Ralph Titterton. Titterton being the author of the excellent booklet notes, which are complimented by beautifully reproduced stills. It is clear there is considerable overlap between this current Silva Screen album and the original, fan club members only 1998 issue, though to fit the material onto a single (albeit very long) CD some of the library cues have been omitted, as have the two classical pieces. The overlap is necessary because Barry Gray actually only wrote complete scores for four of the 24 episodes in the season, and they are represented in full here in four suites which amount to roughly 50 minutes of the 80 minute disc.
Fans of Barry Gray's sound will know what to expect in the effortless mix of melody, suspense and action, though the writing here is appropriately far more adult and sophisticated than in the composer's scores for Gerry Anderson's puppet shows. The music happily being free of second by second humourous 'Mickey Mousing' and constant interpolations of well known tunes. The more imaginative nature of the programme allowed Gray to introduce elements of both avant garde electronics and dynamic rock, and fuse these with his grandiose, often tenderly romantic orchestral writing to unique effect. The cue 'Home' from Black Sun has a particular lyrical beauty which is quiet special.
Though Gray only scored four episodes in full the music will be very familiar to devotees of the show, and the cues were regularly re-worked for use in later programmes. Quiet simply, these are Gray's finest television scores, and that's to say nothing of his electrifying main theme, penned with his son-in-law Vic Elms. This appears in original and thrillingly extended forms, in both main and end title incarnations. Elements of the theme are also worked into climactic moments of various score cues.
Highlights from other composers include Mike Hankinson's blistering 'Alien Attack' from the episode War Games, a set-piece of Waltonian intensity, recalling the power of Walton's 'Battle in The Air' from The Battle of Britain, and the instrumental rock workout penned by Vic Elms and Alan Willis for Ring Around The Moon. Jim Sullivan's sitar piece from The Troubled Spirit seems rather out of place, but that's a minor quibble for such a fine album.
The sound is generally excellent, with the main title cues still packing the power to send a shiver down the spine.
There have been an unusually large number of excellent albums reviewed this month on Film Music on the Web, but having grown-up with the show, watching every season one episode from first transmission several times over (Southern Television were one of three ITV regions in Britain not to bother to buy the abysmal second season, so while the rest of the country suffered those mediocre episodes we simply saw season one over and over again. Of course we grumbled, not knowing what we were missing, or how lucky we were) I am using my prerogative to make this my Editor's Choice album of the month. Unreservedly recommended.
- Main Titles [Gray / Vic Elms]
Breakaway – suite
- The Dark Side Of The Moon
- People Are Dying Up Here
- Human Decision Required
- Alien Attack (from War Games) [Mike Hankinson]
Matter of Life and Death – suite
- Terra Nova
- Phase Two
- A Matter Of Life And Death
- Paradise Lost
- End Titles - Alternative Version [Gray / Vic Elms]
- Gwent (from The Infernal Machine) [Harry Sosnik, Robert Farnon & Beda Folten]
- The Solarium (from Force Of Life) [Giampiero Boneschi]
- Captives Of Triton/Moonwalk (from Ring Around The Moon) [Vic Elms / Alan Willis]
Black Sun - suite
- Black Sun
- Event Horizon
- The Daria (from Mission Of The Darians) [Robert Farnon & Frank Cordell]
- Atonement (from The Troubled Spirit) [Jim Sullivan]
- Main Titles - Extended Alternative Version [Gray / Vic Elms]
- The Origin Of Life/The Miracle (from The Testament Of Arkadia) [Paul Bonneau & Serge Lancen / Jack Arel & Pierre Dutour]
- Another Time, Another Place – suite
- Moon Odyssey
- Regina's World
- Santa Maria
- Flowers For Helena
- End Titles [Gray / Vic Elms]