Various Artists

The Adventures of Superman: Music From the Original 1950s Television Series [Original Television Soundtrack]

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The history of this music could fill -- and, indeed, has filled -- magazine articles. At the time The Adventures of Superman (starring George Reeves) went into production in 1952, the Musicians' Union had made it almost impossible to commission original music for television, or to get it recorded. As a result, most such series relied on stock music, such as that here, which was assembled from various sources -- and re-recorded overseas, in Mexico and Europe (especially France, where orchestras in the postwar era could be put together for as little as $2 per player per afternoon) into coherent and saleable libraries. The music here appeared on more than a dozen other series, including Mr. & Mrs. North, Dick Tracy, Space Patrol, Ramar of the Jungle, and Terry & the Pirates, but The Adventures of Superman was the only series that it seemed to fit perfectly. It's a strange body of work: exciting fight themes alternating with eerie misteriosos and horror "stings," all as fans remember from the first season (the violent black and white season) of The Adventures of Superman. Annotator and producer Paul Mandell has identified Herschel Burke Gilbert, Herb Taylor, and Rudy Schrager as being among the composers and orchestrators deserving credit for the music on this CD. Hearing it without dialogue or sound effects, it's possible to make out details in the scoring -- wind instruments, brass, and percussion, in particular -- that weren't always obvious, and are fascinating to hear today. It is oddly compelling material, even divorced from the violent images of the series' first season (which had a higher body count than The Untouchables). On the other hand, a lot of people who grew up with that series may find their blood pumping and their hearts racing when they hear this music. Producer Paul Mandell has done a monumental service to the soundtrack music genre with this extraordinary CD.

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