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|CD Reviews Thunderbirds and Thunderbirds 2|
|Posted By: Nick Joy on December 26, 2004 - 10:00 PM|
CD Reviews Thunderbirds and Thunderbirds 2
By Nick Joy
Thunderbirds *** 1/2
18 tracks - 50:23
A sense of nostalgia pervades Hans Zimmer's score for Jonathan Frakes'
"Spy Kids with Spaceships." It's not just the fact that the movie nods
affectionately towards the original '60s puppet show, but because
Zimmer regresses to a simpler form of music. It's like Gladiator or The Thin Red Line never happened,
and the composer remained entrenched in his Bruckheimer action-fests of
the mid-'90s. Packed with heroic driving anthems and thrashing
percussion, this could have easily slipped into Zimmer's discography
somewhere between Crimson Tide and
Proud of its heritage, the score commences with a
synthetically-enhanced slightly up-tempo version of Barry Gray's
classic Thunderbirds titles.
Entitled "Thunderbirds Are Go," it sounds enough like the original for
the listener to recognize the orchestra, and thankfully respects it
source material in a way that Apollo 440's "Lost in Space" did not.
Whenever Lady Penelope and chauffeur Parker make an appearance on the
score they are accompanied by a regal theme to signify milady's
aristocracy. Perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part, or just a flight
of fancy, but the Lady Penelope cues occasionally recall Zimmer's
previous lady/ chauffeur pic Driving
Miss Daisy. Sir Ben Kingsley's evil genius The Hood is supported
by the standard sinister orchestral devices of slow low strings and
ominous percussive bangs, and a layer of synthetic male choir added to
the mix. There's also a recurring motif that replicates the first three
notes of Howard Shore's Orc-motif (as used prominently in The Fellowship of the Ring's "Amon
Action cues "TB3 Takeoff," "International Rescue" and "Thunderize" are
fairly interchangeable, and all offer variations on Zimmer's heroic
theme, which is a rousing hybrid of The
Rock and David Arnold's Bond
scores. The best track is "F.A.B.," a climactic cue that builds from
whimsy into a full-blown interpolation of Barry Gray's main theme. This
anthem has never sounded so impressive and powerful, and the only minor
quibble is the sudden cut-off; I'd have loved another minute or so of
this full-on experience.
"F.A.B." is where the album should have finished, and indeed I
recommend you stop the disc at this very point to save you from the
dreaded pop song "Thunderbirds are Go" by Busted. Clearly added to the
disc for commercial appeal, there really is no crossover between the
fans of Zimmer's score and the teenage girls gagging for another hit of
light British pop.
In all, this is a remarkably fun and unpretentious score, and may not
find favor with those who like a maturer Zimmer bolstered with ethnic
instruments and Lisa Gerard's chanting. But for throwaway popcorn
thrills, this is a far better bet than you might have expected. It
won't be appearing on the Academy's short list early next year, but is
applauded for having only a single song and for reminding us that
Zimmer is not adverse to a bit of fun.
Thunderbirds 2 *** 1/2
Silva Screen FILMCD609
27 tracks - 60:05
Smartly timed to tie-in with this summer's big-screen remake, Silva
Screen releases a second dose of Barry Gray's classic Thunderbirds TV scores. This is the
third of Silva's ongoing series of archive Gerry Anderson releases,
following Thunderbirds 1 and Captain Scarlet, with the first
season of Space: 1999 being
prepped for later this year.
The inventiveness and scale of these scores betray their humble
35-piece orchestral origins, sounding twice as big and offering rousing
themes. This completes the release of all available music from the
series, and is the first time that the cues have been out on a
commercial label. There's an eclectic mix of military, action, suspense
and jazz cues, providing underscore to six more episodes. However,
while these cues are attributed to single episodes they were frequently
re-used in other episodes, thus making them more familiar than you
might have thought.
The iconic "Thunderbirds March" is presented this time without the
"5-4-3-2-1" countdown narration, thus allowing the listener to fully
appreciate the majesty of this perennial favorite. The greatest
surprise on the album is "Flying High," a song originally recorded for
the end titles, but ultimately discarded after two recordings, and
dissatisfaction from Anderson. While not in the same league as
Stingray's "Aqua Marina," give me this over Russell Watson's "Faith of
the Heart" any day.
The liner notes include synopses of the relevant episodes, as well as
part two of an ongoing history of Barry Gray's work with Anderson. A
reasonably-priced, attractively-packaged release for Anderson fans and
the new generation of kids who want to delve into the franchise's past.