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Soundtrack Review

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Space: 1999
Years 1&2
Original Television Soundtrack


Composers: Barry Gray and Derek Wadsworth
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 06 August 2021

Space: 1999 exists in two distinct parts: year one and year two. The two seasons divide fans of the show; in the year one camp there’s everyone who likes the series, in the other there’s pretty much no one. Year two is generally seen as an abomination, both in terms of characterisation and plots. It’s tolerated because it exists but it’s the unloved idiot child who would once have been sent away to join the clergy.

This CD is the very embodiment of this great divide – the music contained within its jewel case is in part dramatic, ethereal, dynamic and carefully craft; it is also a lumpen mess of embarrassing cheesy lift music that could have been used for a Flake advert or a ‘70s soft porn movie. Yes, the chasm between years one and two extends to the programme’s musical score.

Barry Gray – long-term composer to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson – created much of the music used in year one. As you'd expect, it’s great, with reoccurring themes and motifs that get modified and mutated with each retelling. This creates an ‘audio continuity’ that gets woven into the episodes, reinforcing a sense unity. The orchestration exudes class, full of shifting tempos and great hooks. For a classically train composer it’s also pretty darn funky in places, too.

For example, the opening theme has punch, dynamics and a memorable tune. It’s a great slice of signature Gray. The track ‘Massive Nuclear Explosion’ sounds like it’s been lifted from a Hitchcock movie – it really is that good – while ‘The Entity’ reminds us that Barry was a master of weaving electronic sounds into conventional arrangements, as he did so successfully for Captain Scarlet, UFO and Doppelganger.

In fact, there’s barely a misstep – the tracks from the episode 'War Games' are pure Hollywood… for a TV series! And the track from 'Dragon’s Domain' sounds like a lost music cue from 2001: A Space Odyssey. CD 1 is, in fact, simply amazing; there’s not a bad track to be found.



The second disc, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. Jazz trumpeter Derek Wadsworth replaced Barry Gray for year two and his contributions are almost entirely unlistenable nonsense. The new opening theme is pretty good, if a little melodramatic, but what follows is grim. ‘We’re All Aliens’ sounds like a failed bid for the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Make Me a Pretty Nose’ is easy listening at its absolute worst, ‘The Garden of Vega’ goes round in circles to no great effect and ‘Showdown at Copernicus’ sounds like it should have been used in a TV ad for a brown nylon suit [complete with flares].



Barry’s clever and effective use of strings and modern instrumentation got replaced by lots of Fender Rhodes piano tinkling, sickly sweet melodies and pointless one chord workouts. Which leaves me with a problem… a conundrum of massive proportions. How do I mark this release?

Well, disc one scores a well-deserved 10. Disc two, however, scores a meagre 2 and even then I might be being overly generous. My advice is buy the release but only play the first half of it, not unlike your complete set of episodes on Blu-ray now I think about it.

Anthony Clark

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