The Name's Gray, Barry Gray: Secret Service Release
Barry Gray is a composer who provided some of the soundtrack for my young life. For me it was the backdrop for the engaging Space:1999 which was shown sporadically in syndication here in the states when I was in elementary school. The sound of that television series of course builds on much of Gray's past work which has been getting a number of releases on the Silva Label.
This year’s Barry Gray classic score release from Silva is for the short-lived The Secret Service (1969; SILVA 1681). They have been championing his scores over the past few years returning to the original studio sources for these re-issues. The Gerry and Sylvia Anderson TV series continued their exploration of “supermarination” this time following an elderly vicar combating crime. Basing their lead character on British comedian Stanley Unwin, the show also tried to blur the reality of the real world into the premise with live-action material featuring Unwin. Barry Gray tried out a few neat musical tricks to capture the oddness on display using organ and percussion along with some vocal work from the Mike Sammes Singers (the same group used for Supercar). The release features around 40 minutes of material.
One nice touch is the inclusion of the very brief “Century 21 Logo” to kick things off. Also fun is the Bachian fugue that Gray uses for the main and end titles with its jazzy grooves. The other elements are filled with the fun dramatic musical gestures and instrumental colors one hears in other of Gray’s scores. Little punches to add to the danger lurking in moments like “Robbery at Healey Auditorium”. “Calling Father Unwin” is a great blend of organ jazz and cool orchestral stylings that reference the title theme. Martial tropes and slight comedic ideas also appear with interesting electronic ideas (“Operation Intercept”). All of this blends together into another delightful musical soupcon with musical segments that are edited together here to help make interesting tracks. Things shift rather quickly which Gray handles deftly.
While there is not a lot of material here, and the sound can be a little dry at times, it is always fun to hear how Gray merges pop jazz styles in a sort of lounge-y quality while adding little dramatic flair along the way. Another must have for Barry Gray fans in what is perhaps his trippiest 1960s score. The album will also be available as a digital download.