Monday, June 29, 2009


I used to have a 45 of Michael Jackson's "Ben." I thought it was quite moving. But what child wouldn't be touched by an ode to one's killer rat buddies? In this very David Lynch-ian video, Crispin Glover sings from his 2003 remake of "Willard":

Monday, June 22, 2009


Here's an obscure but fascinating footnote to the career of one of Hollywood's great soundtrack composers, Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann is most famous for his Alfred Hitchcock scores - those shrieking strings in "Psycho" are certainly among the most famous minutes in film soundtrack history.

But this stuff was library music - not available to the general public, but intended for radio, tv, or film soundtrack music, to be rented as needed. All Music sez:

"This little-known suite of 11 short movements, totaling 25 minutes of music, displays Bernard Herrmann's versatility in making music dealing with the Strange.

Bernard Herrmann (1911 - 1975), now a legend among film composers, got his start as a conductor-composer for CBS Radio in the 1930s. His Hollywood career began due to his work for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater. When Welles filmed Citizen Kane, he took Herrmann to work with him.

Even after winning the Academy Award Herrmann kept his "regular job" with CBS for as long as the radio network had its own orchestra and needed a supply of music on a constant basis. Thereafter, he did some other work for the network. Part of his job included writing "stock music" for the network's music library, all-purpose cues that could be pulled out and played, or even simply inserted from recordings, literally on a moment's notice.

Later Herrmann arranged some of this stock music into suites: Western Suite, The Desert Suite, and Outer Space Suite. These are all-purpose cues for television series, written from 1956 to 1959. Outer Space Suite is for woodwinds, harp, and percussion, mostly bell-like. Most parts of its music appeared in episodes of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone. One notable use was in People are Alike all Over, written by Serling after a story by Paul Fairman, starring Roddy McDowell, who finds that Martians are distressingly like humans, particularly in their propensity to put other species in a zoo."

It appeared on an album in 1983, and has never been issued on CD.

Bernard Herrmann: "Outer Space Suite"
  1. Prelude (3:49)
  2. Signals (1:24)
  3. Space Drift (3:13)
  4. Space Stations (1:20)
  5. Time Suspense (4:22)
  6. Starlight (2:49)
  7. Danger (1:24)
  8. Moonscape (2:26)
  9. Airlock (0:51)
  10. Tycho (2:00)
  11. The Earth (1:15)

Thanks to Chris Swank!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It's a durn shame that the ellipsis arts label has gone under. They produced some stellar book/CD packages. And tho I can't give you the color-illustrated book, I can give you the CD of home-made mad-genius musical instrument inventors "Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones."

Compiled by Bart Hopkins, publisher of a magazine dedicated to experimental instruments, with a forward by Tom Waits, "Gravikords" is a crucial document of strange music. It's a great listen, from legends like Clara Rockmore's classical theremin, to Sugar Belly's bamboo-sax calypso, to Wendy Chamber's version of "New York New York" on the car-horn organ (which is exactly what you think it is). Covering both the semi-famous (Harry Partch, Don Buchla & Robert Moog) as well as unknown toolshed tinkers, it's an inspiring testimony to human ingenuity and imagination.

Bart Hopkins et al. Gravikords, Whirlies, and Pyrophones

Click on artist name for info

1. Excerpt From Le Bal - Hans Reichel
2. Excerpt From Pacific 3-2-1-Zero - Phil Dadson, From Scrarch -->
3. Excerpt From Silence The Tongues Of Prophecy - Qubais Reed Ghazala -->
4. Luminescence - Jean-Claude Chapuis -->
5. Excerpt From In The Beginning: Etude II - Don Buchla, Robert Moog -->
6. Excerpt From Claycussion - Ward Hartenstein -->
7. Excerpt From And On The Seventh Day, Petals Fell In Petaluma - Harry Partch -->
8. Shake Up Adina - Sugar Belly -->
9. Bamboo Is - Darrel De Vore -->
10. The Swan - Clara Rockmore -->
11. Terra Zona - Barry Hall, The Burnt Earth -->
12. Naiades - Jacque Dudon
13. Instru-Matics - Ken Butler

14. Entomological Effervescence -
Tom Nunn
15. Kindred Spirits - Sarah Hopkins -->
16. Piccadilly - Robert Grawi -->
17. Aquaknots - Susan Rawcliffe -->
18. New York, New York - Wendy Mae Chambers -->

There was a sequel (which I do not have) "Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones." Any label heads out there want to reissue these?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

THE AVENGERS & Other Top Sixties TV Themes

Here's an excellent 2-disk set of TV soundtrack themes as rendered by Britain's top EZ bandleaders. Most of these shows never made it to our shores here in the US of A so this is pretty unfamiliar territory for me, but it's hard to go wrong with '60s soundtracks, especially ones of the sci-fi, action and crime genres.

There's some famous names here: jazzman Roy Budd ("Get Carter" soundtrack), John Keating of "Space Experience" Space-Age/Moog fame, and Ron Grainer of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, whose sketch of the "Dr Who" theme melody was eventually realized by Delia Derbyshire.

I cannot stop impulsively singing the "Stingray" theme, much to the annoyance of anyone around me: "Stingraaaaay...STINGray!" You'll be doing it too, I tells ya...

Disc: 1
1. Avengers - Laurie Johnson Orchestra 2. Man in a Suitcase - Ron Grainer & His Orchestra 3. Thunderbirds - Barry Gray Orchestra 4. Dr. Who - Eric Winstone And His Orchestra 5. Old Ned (Theme from Steptoe & Son) - Ron Grainer 6. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding... Mr. Hitler? (Dad's Army) - Bud Flanagan 7. Captain Scarlet - Barry Gray Orchestra 8. Theme from Z-Cars - Johnny Keating & His Orchestra 9. Saint - Cyril Stapleton & The Eliminators 10. Departments - Cyril Stapleton Orchestra 11. Joe 90 - Barry Gray Orchestra 12. Crossroads Theme - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 13. Lucky Stars [Theme from "Thank Your Lucky Stars"] 14. Light Flight (Theme from Take Three Girls) - Pentangle 15. Stingray - Barry Gray Orchestra, Gary Miller 16. High Wire [Theme from Danger Man] - Bob Leaper Orchestra 17. Champions - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 18. Hancock [Hancock's Tune] - Derek Scott Music 19. Forsyte Saga Theme - Cyril Stapleton 20. On the Ball [World Cup TV Theme] - The John Schroeder Orchestra 21. Power Game - Cyril Stapleton Orchestra 22. Little Sutie (Theme from Dr, Finlay's Casebook) - Les Reed Strings 23. Fireball (Theme from Fireball Xl5) - Flee-Rekkers 24. Maigret Theme - The Eagles 25. Out of This World - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 26. No Hiding Place - Laurie Johnson Orchestra 27. Fugitive Theme - The John Schroeder Orchestra 28. Theme from 'Who Dun It' - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 29. W. Somerset Maugham - Cyril Stapleton Orchestra 30. Happy Joe [Theme from 'Comedy Playhouse'] - Ron Grainer

Disc: 2

1. Scarlett [Theme from 'Scarlett Hill'] - Peter Knight Orchestra 2. How Soon [Theme from the Richard Boone Show] - Jackie Trent 3. THW Willow Waltz (Tim Frazer's Theme) - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 4. Mr. Rose - Roy Budd 5. Doctors - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 6. Theme from Sam Benedict - Johnny Keating & His Orchestra 7. Ben Casey - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 8. Sir Francis Drake - Piccadilly Stings 9. Perry Mason - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 10. Our House - Piccadilly Stings 11. Who Is Sylvia? - Charlie Drake 12. Latin Quarter [Theme from 'Riviera Police'] - Laurie Johnson Orchestra 13. Ghost Squad - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 14. Echo Four-Two - Laurie Johnson Orchestra 15. Our Love Story [From TV Series 'Love Story'] - Sounds Orchestral 16. Theme from 'The Naked Story' (Somewhere in the Night) - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 17. Sucu Sucu [From TV Series 'Top Secret'] - Laurie Johnson Orchestra 18. Casablanca (Theme from Crane) - Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen 19. Oliver Twist Theme - The Eagles 20. Carlos' Theme [From 'The Sentimental Agent'] - Johnny Keating 21. Spies Theme - Cyril Stapleton 22. Deputy - Laurie Johnson 23. Man Alive - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 24. Memories of Summer (Love Story Theme) - Tony Hatch & His Orchestra 25. Lunar Walk [Theme from 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'] - Johnny Hawksworth Orchestra 26. West End (From Whicker's World) - Laurie Johnson 27. Three Live Wires - Bob Wallis 28. Quick Before They Catch Us - Paddy, Klaus & Gibson 29. That's Me over Here (Ronnie Corbett's Theme) - Cyril Stapleton 30. Theme from 'Peyton Place' - Jack Dorsey Orchestra

THE AVENGERS & Other Top Sixties TV Themes (disk 1)
THE AVENGERS & Other Top Sixties TV Themes (disk 2) .

Thanks to Chris Swank!