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Soundtrack Review

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Space: 1999
Original Television Soundtrack - Year 2


Composer: Derek Wadsworth
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 26 October 2009

Season two of Space: 1999: was launched in September 1976, and marked Barry Gray's departure as a long time composer for Gerry Anderson’s productions, with Derek Wadsworth taking over the scoring role. Featuring a '70s mix of jazzy sounds and analogue synths, Wadsworth’s score epitomises the era. For over half-a-century, Derek Wadsworth played, arranged and conducted for some of the biggest names in music including Dusty Springfield, George Harrison, Judy Garland, Dionne Warwick and many more. The CD booklet includes notes from Wadsworth who sadly died in 2008 after a long and successful career as a composer, trombonist and session musician...

The second season of Gerry Anderson’s Space: 1999 was a greatly changed production from the first. Characters were substituted, sets were radically redesigned, the scripts were largely dumbed down and the music was also changed.

Barry Gray, who had worked with Anderson since the late 1950s, was replaced as series composer by Derek Wadsworth, who was given the brief of writing both a main theme and incidental music that was more exciting and modern. The show’s American producers felt that Gray’s music had been too grand and imperious and wouldn’t be in keeping with their new direction for the show - more aliens and less talking heads philosophising.

In fairness to Wadsworth, who is generally regarded as not being as good as Gray, his score is often very solid. His theme music - inspired in part by Hawaii Five-O - is stirring and exciting and much of his incidental compositions are strong and atmospheric. Where they lack is mostly in their production, which is sometimes very syrupy, especially on the Cadbury Flake ad-sounding 'We’re All Aliens'.

Meanwhile, the track 'The Strongest Passion', wouldn’t have sounded out of place during a chase sequence in The Sweeney. And this is where the problem lies. Barry Gray was capable of creating scores that were a unity - wholly self-reliant and self-referential. Derek Wadsworth’s music, on the other hand, shows it routes, undermining the basic compositions by tying them to a very non-SF world outside the show.

The music to the first season of Space: 1999 sounds timeless - the music for season two, however, is very much a product of its time. That’s not to suggest this CD isn’t enjoyable - it is - but it’s more curio than masterpiece. For collectors and completists only.


Anthony Clark

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