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Soundtrack Review

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Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Barry Gray
Label: Silva Screen Records
SILCD1649 (CD), SILED1649 (download), SILLP1649 (vinyl)
Release Date: 19 November 2021

The demise of Thunderbirds marked a major change in the productions of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The Captain Scarlet puppets, for one thing, became more human in appearance. The episode length was greatly reduced – back to the half hour slots occupied by Stingray and Fireball XL5. And the tone of the production changed, too; everything was bleak and sinister. The hero organisation may have been called Spectrum but the series was dark...

This last change was matched in the music composed and recorded by Barry Gray. There are clearly fewer musicians on the recordings – a budgetary requirement, I suspect – but many of the themes, especially the more electronic ones, were clearly written in a style adapted to match the character of the series. The track, ‘The Power of the Mysterons’, is the perfect example of this.

Another notable change was the repeated use of the Spectrum drum beat and the four-note Captain Scarlet phrase, which both get dropped into lots of the compositions on this release. This would be taken even further in Gray’s score for UFO, which was essentially variation of the show’s theme, over and over to diminishing effect. In Captain Scarlet, the repeated signature elements work, on the whole, although the track ‘Atomic Annihilation’ from Big Ben Strikes Again, illustrates the weakness of this approach – it basically goes nowhere at breakneck pace.

Sometimes the lack of musicians becomes all too apparent. Plinky plonky keyboard often play parts that had they been recorded during the Thunderbirds era would surely have been string or brass arrangements. Also, there’re lots of military snare drums littering the recordings, which can become a little tiresome, especially when paired with the four-note Scarlet phrase.

However, the fan favourite music from White of Snow makes a welcome appearance and there are manic bongos, scything strings, unresolved chords, electronic atmospheres and all the usual Barry Gray hooks. Oh, and both versions of the end theme, of course. In fact, there’s a lot to enjoy, even if ‘The Tower Crumbles’ is a reedited track from Thunderbirds.

Of course, if you like Barry Gray’s work [and all sensible people do] you’ll not hesitate in purchasing this release. The quality might not match his previous work on Thunderbirds and Stingray but lots of the incidental music from Captain Scarlet will make you smile. In my opinion, Baza returned to form on Joe 90 but for now this will have to do.

A very nice release but not quite great…


Anthony Clark

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