Original Television Soundtrack

Music composed by Richard Harvey
Fanderson £14.99 Reviewed by Andrew Pixley

When Dr Tiger Ninestein used to tell me to "Expect the unexpected" back in the 1980s, I have to admit that I pretty much ignored him. Cards on the table, I am not the world's greatest fan of Terrahawks, and all I expected when I tuned into Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr's macromarionation offering on Yorkshire TV was another mediocre script and some lacklustre Toho-Studios-inspired modelwork from a team whom I held in high regard from their work of previous decades. Thus when I heard that Fanderson were releasing a CD containing Richard Harvey's score to this rather insipid show, I have to admit that I wasn't filled with confidence.

As usual with a Fanderson product, the fans have proved that they have the talent and skills to match and exceed the quality for a finished item which one could expect from a commercial outfit. The CD offers over 75 minutes of material in all, comprising the opening and closing themes, three unused demo versions of the theme, six complete episode scores (both parts of Expect the Unexpected, Thunder-Roar, Close Call, To Catch a Tiger and Operation SAS) as well as three 'pop' numbers from Hawkwing co-pilot Kate Kestrel (really Moya Griffiths, a young singer who looked singularly uneasy when forced into a Kate Kestrel outfit in a number of publicity sessions at the time). There is also a beautifully illustrated 16-page colour booklet which sets all the scores in context, offers lyrics to Kate's songs and provides biographical details to Harvey's distinguished career.

So, what of the music? Well, although I was anticipating a barrage of soulless mechanical drum synths, beating an inhuman rhythm alongside cold electronic crescendo... I am absolutely astounded at how much I have enjoyed this score. Although the product of currents and voltages rather than strings and woodwind, Harvey's music has a wonderfully grand orchestral feel to it, and divorced from the rather cheap visuals it was made to accompany, stands magnificently on its own feet. The incidentals are the undoubted highlight, leaving the other material as fascinating curios. A couple of totally inappropriate attempts at the theme appear alongside Kate Kestrel's 'hits' - although the ridiculous idea of having Kate sing about Thunderbirds in SOS only served to remind the audience of the day that they were watching sub-standard Anderson fare. Living in the 21st Century - the closing credits on the American prints - is repetitive and mercifully short. Thankfully, it seems that the master tapes for the bulk of Ms Kestrel's back catalogue is missing presumed wiped.

So, almost 20 years later, I should have heeded Ninestein's words. Barry Gray it isn't - but highly enjoyable it is! 8

TV Zone Magazine - Issue 152 (June 2002)
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