Stand By for Live Action!!
Releasing in November, Silva is sharing fans a live concert release, Stand By For Action! Gerry Anderson fans may recall a similarly-titled compilation from Silva a few years back that included a lot of the iconic television music from this British production company that introduced the world to Supermarionette TV. That release featured classic theme songs as well as fan-favorite cues. In April of this year (2022), a full symphony orchestra was brought together in Birmingham (UK) for a full evening retrospective of the past 60 years of Anderson productions. The concert also paid homage to the composers who worked on these series as well: Barry Gray, Richard Harvey, and Crispin Merrell. This is a memento release of the live concert conducted by George Morton, with Harvey conducting a suite from his score for TerraHawks (1983-86). The slightly-over an hour release will be available as well on streaming platforms.
The program opens with Gray’s Thunderbirds (1965) opening title to get things started, complete with some sound effects. Then we are off to some brief little moments from Anderson’s first early television series with The Adventures of Twizzle (1957), Torchy the Battery Boy (1959), and selections from Four Feather Falls (1960). The latter represented by a couple western songs. Then we are off to a host of classic series music with title music and some fan favorites that included music from Supercar (1961; and the New Orleans-jazz tinged “King Kool”); Fireball XL5 (1962); Stingray (1963; including the “March of the Oysters”; and Aquamarina”); Captain Scarlet (1967; and “The Mysterons”); Joe 90 (1968); Doppelganger aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969); Legacy; The Secret Service (1969); UFO (1970); and both Gray’s and Wadsworth’s opening titles for Space 1999 (1975). After the aforementioned Harvey suite (which is one of the longer segments at just over 9 minutes), there is a sweet of music of Crispin Merrell’s work. Music from Thunderbirds closes things off with an extended action cue, “Trapped in the Sky” and then the “Thunderbirds March”.
The ”live” aspect of the concert is very present in this recording with audience applause greeting most of the ends of tracks enthusiastically, and often oddly at the front of a track with a weird edit. The concert included clips and restored visuals which sometimes are heard at the title track music. The solo singers are fine, but the small chorus group seems a bit off tonally here and there (it may be a simple issue of balance that pulls forward a voicing that just sounds different from the originals) though is also enthusiastic.
Overall the recording sounds fine with the orchestra recessed a bit when soloists are brought forward into the sound picture. The sound from the effects and narration on the original clips being shown might have been better served as a later edit as they appear to have been recorded from the hall. That does lend one a sense of atmosphere at least. The orchestra itself seems to be enjoying these pop-influenced tracks coupled with potential personal connections with the many series. The sheer melodic inventiveness for so much of the music here is quite engaging with some tunes holding up quite well, the themes themselves even more so. Fans of these Gerry Anderson productions will certainly want to track down this release with a good set of guilty pleasure songs and favorite theme songs all in one package. No doubt it was a delightful evening for all who could attend and now others can share in that evening for years to come.