Hot on the heels of their previous Gerry Anderson/Barry Gray releases of music from Supercar, Fireball Xl5, Thunderbirds and UFO, Silva Screen now turn their attention to Space: 1999. Space: 1999’s first series score was Gray’s last collaboration with the Andersons, a task he shared with a handful of other composers, as we shall see. This double CD set covers both series, with Derek Wadsworth picking up the baton for the drastically different second series.
CD 1 features the first season, with a selection of music from 14 episodes, beginning with Breakaway, the series pilot. Of course, an event as dramatically catastrophic as the Earth’s moon going spinning off into space having blasted out of orbit by a nuclear explosion warrants some suitable music. And who better than Barry Gray, whose main title fits the bill perfectly. The well-remembered opening theme is grandiose, urgent, bombastic, and dramatic. Though it has a hint of pomposity right at the beginning, where Martin Landau and Barbara Bain’s credits stood.
As expected with album compilations of a TV show’s music, many of the tracks are variations of the main theme. Gray also uses cues and backbeats from his earlier shows. Evidently, there are certainly some samples of Thunderbirds here, which itself was reminiscent at times of Stingray. But rather than seem like a cheap rehash, the sparing use serves as a subliminal reminder that we’re still in the Andersons’ universe and gives a sense of continuity.
When the music is composed by others on the first series disc, all bets are off and we’re taken on an amazing journey of different styles and sensibilities. This change of style is refreshing as The Ultra Probe theme from Dragon’s Domain has a subtle serenity to it that’s often lacking in Gray’s hectic orchestral onslaughts. This composition by Tomaso Albinoni has a classical feel to it, as does Arkadia from The Testament of Arkadia by Serge Lancen, Jack Arel and Pierre Dutour. But that’s not to say that Gray wasn’t versatile. His We’re at War from War Games, co-composed with Mike Hankinson has a relentlessly strong brass section that is reminiscent of a Hammer Film score by Philip Martell.
As we move on to CD2, there’s a distinct change. Derek Wadsworth is never too far from his jazz musician background, and it is reflected strongly in the music. The second series theme has an urgent beat, coupled with a more upbeat tempo that sounds like it belongs more on a seventies TV cop show. As the selection of five of his episode scores continues, Wadsworth tries to bring more of a sense of the unknown to the music. But overall, the tone of the music has changed from the first series, as, of course, did the tone of the show itself. There were changes in the cast, costuming, and the addition of Catherine Schell as a recurring alien. Wadsworth’s music reflects all of these changes, while indulging in his jazz influences with, at times, a touch of disco. His use of guitar and strings on The Death of Psychon from The Metamorph oozed the influence of Lalo Schifrin from around the six-minute mark onward. And once heard, it can’t be unheard.
Overall, a good collection of a diverse mix of music from a TV classic, and better yet – the original soundtracks are not frustratingly re-recorded.
SPACE: 1999 YEARS 1 & 2 ORIGINAL TV SOUNDTRACK is out now.