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Fireball XL5: Music by Barry Gray (CD review).

January 23, 2021 | By | Reply More

Silva Screen Records have finally reached ‘Fireball XL5’ with a compilation in right order from the first 16 episodes in the 24 tracks from the series, starting with the original opening with Steve Zodiac (Paul Maxwell) and Venus (Sylvia Anderson) and the XL5 taking off. If you’re in the mood, you might even do imitation of Zooney going ‘Well-come home’ and who won’t be with the fabulous Barry Gray musical score.

A nearly full orchestral being used for a puppet show back in 1962-63, would have look audacious even back when I first watched it but so embellished the show. There is a lot of variety in the musical styles to fit different occasions, occasionally interspersed with the main theme beat. Even so, you get jazz and western music, with a lot of mood and tone, popping up as needed.

Picking out some tracks of interest.

Track 3, ‘Doomed Planet’, is certainly the one that symbolise certain incidental music that occasionally popped up in later series with its clarinet playing.

Track 8, ‘A Day In The Life Of A Space General’ is the start of the dream sequence for Lieutenant Ninety and also carried over to later series in part.

Track 11, ‘’Spectre Of Electon’ is Barry Gray’s use of the Ondes Martenot, an electronic augmentation for musical instruments which came up again in the end credits track for ‘UFO’. I looked it up and it looks like hand contact engaged to an organ or piano that gives the music and quite unlike the theremin used in ‘Space Patrol’ (US title: ‘Planet Patrol’) where you just waved your hand in front of its aerial in case any of you were looking for comparison.

‘Track 12, is the ‘Fireball’ end titles sung by Don Spencer, which has the lyric at the start of the booklet. I wonder what would have happened had they gone for an astronomically accurate lyric. Track 18 gives the instrumental version of the end music which probably explains spreading them out. The final track does the single version with an extra verse sung by Don Spencer so it was probably sensibly to spread through the album.

Track 13, ‘Circus Dreams’ has some flourishes that were later used in ‘Thunderbirds’ for Parker. Certainly, track 22, ‘Foiled’, was used again for our favourite chauffeur.

Even now, this album is loaded with energy and its still had to believe its freshness still lives on nearly sixty years later. Hearing away from the TV show, you’ll note how my ear for music picked out bits and pieces Barry Gray carried over to later series. Although I doubt he did this for any act of continuity but more for the mood it could set and probably thought it couldn’t be bettered, even by him.

Oh, there is also an orange vinyl release at around £25.00 for those with record players and wanting all formats.

Has my enthusiasm reached you yet?

GF Willmetts

January 2021

(pub: Silva Screen Records, 2021. 62 minutes 24 tracks. Price: £11.99 (UK). ASIN: SILCD1595)

check out websites: www.silvascreen.com and www.silvascreen.com/silcd1595-fireball-xl5/

Category: Music/Audio, TV

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