Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Great Forgotten U.K. 60's Sides: George Martin's Theme One

GEORGE MARTIN & HIS ORCHESTRA-Theme One/Elephants And Castles U.K. United Artists UP 1194 1967

"The Move-Flowers In The Rain" is usually the answer to a pub quiz question  in England that asks "What was the first record played on Radio One"?.  This is not correct from what I have gathered.  At 7:00 A.M. on September 30, 1967 The B.B.C. launched Radio One, their first all pop music radio station (established in the wake of the outlawing of the popular Pirate Radio) and the first sound listeners heard was Robin Scott introducing an orchestral but modern piece called "Theme One" by George Martin. Former Pirate Radio DJ Tony Blackburn then came on and played "Flowers In The Rain" .

"Theme One" first came to these ears in 1996 when the big Easy/Kitsch/Theme tune music craze began (which perfectly suited my randy dandy boy about town self) and swallowed me whole. One of my first comps of many of this genre was  "The Sound Gallery 2" which "Theme One" so elegantly closed and was pretty much required party music in my abode for the rest of the 90's.

One is immediately taken by "Theme One" with it's '66-'67 Macca style bass licks, regal trumpets, sweeping strings all under this wonderful pseudo psychedelic wash called "phasing" (aka "skying", a month after The Small Faces "Itchycoo Park" used the same technique on  drum segment) . Classical music it is not. It was later covered by Van der Graff Generator (1972) and Cozy Powell (1979) .

The B-side "Elephants And Castles" is not nearly as swinging. Based around a kitschy organ riff it's pretty Muzaky and verges on elevator music (and not really in the cool "Sound Gallery" style of easy either).

"Theme One" was issued on the essential but out of print CD compilation 'The Sound Gallery Volume two" (which is where this track first came to my attention) and on a still available CD titled "Highlights From 50 Years Of Recording" a slimmed down version of an extensive collection of his material.

Hear "Theme One":

Hear "Elephants And Castles":

1 comment:

C said...

Interesting, thanks Wilthomer! I only really knew Van Der Graaf Generator's version because it was used as the theme/intro music for another Radio One show - 'The Friday Rock Show' hosted by Tommy Vance, which I didn't really like but used to listen to anyway when I got home after a Friday night out (in the late 70s early 80s, the only weekday night that Peel wasn't on!)
It's such a great tune, and evocative of that time in my life. Great stuff.