All the nicest bits of the Sixties are here - the larger than-life style, the...
Morag Reavley 2003
Five, four, three, two, one: turbo-rockets roaring and jaws wobbling, Thunderbirds are back! The twitchy team from Tracy Island make a heroic return in what is, remarkably, the first official album of music from the cult series to be released.
Original music has been selected from nine of the 32 television "Thunderbirds" episodes, lovingly salvaged and compiled from recordings mouldering in the garage of marionette maestro Barry Gray.
Gray had an uncanny facility for catchy, pulse-quickening tunes and this album is crammed with them. The opening titles - up there with Bond, Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles in the quintessential soundtrack of the Sixties - still fizz with excitement and anticipation. "Thunderbirds are go!", the recurring launch motif, is still heart-pumping stuff . Rescue sequences such as "Fireflash Landing" from the 'Trapped in the Sky' episode come fast and furious.
But there are plenty of gems besides the action pieces. Gray was a talented jazzman with a keen understanding of musical nuance. "The Man from MI.5" is the spy theme James Bond never had - an urbane jazz fantasia, perfect for a mannequin about town. Lady Penelope drawls her way through the nightclub chanson "Dangerous Game" with an East European accent, slinky, sexy and slightly off-key, like a hung(!) -over Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Gray also had a strong feeling for comedy. Nursery rhymes "London Bridge" and "Oranges and Lemons" and the wartime song "There'll Always Be an England" break in unexpectedly on complicated jazz themes. An adventure sequence lurches suddenly into a banjo solo in "Jeremiah and Lady Penelope". Gray himself jams expertly in a scene in which the supermarionated Virgil bangs ineptly on the piano in the Tracy Island lounge. A delicious sense of fun pervades.
You don't have to be interested in International Rescue to enjoy this album; you need never even have watched "Thunderbirds". All the nicest bits of the Sixties are here - the larger than-life style, the cheesiness and the exuberant optimism. Simply F.A.B.1.