Various Artists

Fab: Music from the TV Shows by Barry Gray

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This is one neat CD, and a listener needn't even have been a fan of such television series as Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Stingray, or UFO to enjoy this music -- though that does help. Barry Gray spent more than a decade writing the music to television series and movies produced by Gerry Anderson which, because of their popularity among children from the 1950s onward, became some of the most familiar television music in existence among baby-boomer viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. It's all performed here by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Konstantin Pavlov, in lavishly arranged versions that exploit fully the 60-70 players available. Gray's music for Thunderbirds is the centerpiece, appearing as an opening march and an extended 24-minute suite that's filled with such rich orchestral color that it's worth hearing just for the timbral effects of the music. Some of the other arrangements have their share of surprises, such as the lush saxophone solo over the melody for "Marina" in the medley for Stingray, and the dissonant orchestral digression in the Captain Scarlet music. For reasons best known to the producers, Gray's music for the first season of Space: 1999 is absent from this collection -- instead, the second season theme by Derek Wadsworth has been included, which doesn't really fit in with the rest of what's here. As either an orchestral showpiece of a rich, nostalgic journey into one's viewing past, this is a very worthwhile CD, with thorough annotation as well.

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