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Soundtrack Review

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Stand By For Action!
Gerry Anderson In Concert


Composers: Barry Gray, Stephen Foster, Derek Wadsworth, Richard Harvey and Crispin Merrell
Conductors: George Morton and Richard Harvey
Performed by: Carrot Productions’ Hackenbacker Orchestra
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILCD1691 (CD), SILED1691 (download)
Release Date: 28 October 2022

I’ve been lucky enough to hear the music of Barry Gray played live and it was an absolute treat. It should therefore have been doubly good to have attended the ‘Stand By For Action – Gerry Anderson in Concert’ [April 2022 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham] as it added in scores from some of the great man’s shows that didn’t feature contributions from Gray.

The result, on disc, however, is a surprisingly mixed bag. Starting with the Thunderbirds opening titles makes perfect sense but the delivery is oddly lacking in dynamics and pace – it lopes along without the energy that made the original so powerful. And then we have the song from Torchy... which is as painful now as it was back in the day. I know... it’s for completeness, but even so.

The three song from Four Feather Falls suffer from musical theatre-style singing, which sort of fits but becomes more of an issue as the concert progresses. The Supercar theme sounds pretty much like the original, but again it doesn’t have the zip of the original recording, and why there’s some Dixieland jazz up next defeats me. Not a great Supercar selection, in my opinion.

Fireball XL5’s closing song gets murdered by the musical theatre-style singing, rendering it a cloying mess of melodrama and open vowel sounds. And the ‘Stingray’ chants on the opening Stingray theme are just horrible and out of tune, too. 'March of the Oysters' almost returns normality, but it’s lacking punch, and less said about 'Aqua Marina' the better.

Thank Goodness for The Dangerous Game... but it’s the lull before the storm of the full horror that is the Captain Scarlet song. Oh dear... there are no words to describe the singing. It’s the stuff of nightmares. And what happened to the tune?

Joe 90 fares much better, which is a blessed relief, and this improves even further with the theme from Doppelganger – a real highlight of a pretty indifferent concert, so far. Sadly, the singing on The Secret Service returns us back to the ground with a bump. It’s musical theatre amped up to the max!

UFO and Space: 1999 come and go painlessly enough but the lack of punch really shows again. All the notes are right but they arrive with little energy or commitment. And then things start to get interesting... Terrahawks lands.

The original cheap synth recordings get a full orchestral makeover and what a change it makes. If this had been used on the show it would have made a real difference – the 10 minute selection from the series is a revelation. Sadly, the 2 minutes from New Captain Scarlet are quite the reverse – a tuneless, lumbering cacophony of peak dullness.

And so to the end – a suite of music from 'Trapped in the Sky' and the 'Thunderbirds March'. Both are good but not as potent as the original recordings, which reminds us of just how great Barry Gray was. His shadow casts a pall over proceedings and on the whole the concert feels lifeless in comparison to the great man’s recorded work.

So to sum up – this isn’t an essential purchase, although the Terrahawks stuff is great. Everything else ranges from pretty good to totally unlistenable. And where’s the value in that? I’m sure it was a fab evening but this memento fails to reach escape velocity.


Anthony Clark

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