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Soundtrack Review

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"Stand By For Action!"
The Music of Barry Gray


Composer: Barry Gray
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 04 May 2009

The music of Barry Gray graced a run of highly successful TV programmes produced by the husband and wife team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. And in their own way, the theme tunes and incidental scores he wrote were as much a part of the success of shows such as Thunderbirds and Stingray as any other element of their production...

For many years it was almost impossible to get to hear Barry’s marvellous music without watching the programmes so it’s been great that Silva Screen has been so dedicated in recent years to releasing tracks, digitally restored and well-packaged. Their CDs of Barry’s compositions have been really excellent. Up until now...

"Stand by for Action!" is, on the whole, a repacked ‘best of’ assortment with just enough new material to tempt fans into buying a disc full of material that they are likely to already own. In that respect it all seems a tad cynical, especially as the previously unreleased tracks are, frankly, pretty disappointing.

Yes, the songs from Four Feather Falls are nice to have, but hardly essential, and 'I’ve Got Something to Shout About' may be a rare curio from Stingray but it’s also a pretty dreadful song. In fact, it’s only the music from the 'Loch Ness Monster' episode of Stingray that will make Barry fans sit up and listen... and even then it would have been better to have had the score from, say, the 'Big Gun' episode as it’s much more evocative of the series.

The short snippet of music from Secret Service episode 'Operation Intercept' is also a welcome addition but once again the series would have been better served by something that perhaps didn’t lean so heavily on the main theme for its structure.

Overall, there’s no doubting the quality of the content of this disc but it would surely have made more sense to have been more careful in the track selection. It’s nice to have the themes from Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet et al all in one place but many of the tracks between them fail to balance out into a representative or satisfying whole.

"Stand by for Action!" is neither fish nor fowl - it’s not a particularly good introduction to the great Barry Gray and there’s insufficient new material to really satisfy hardcore fans. This CD is therefore a missed opportunity, albeit one packed with fabulous music.

It pains me to be critical of this CD but in all honesty the track selection leaves me vexed.


Anthony Clark

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