While it doesn’t quite soar to the astronomical heights of the first, volume two of Thunderbirds Are Go still manages to be a pretty adventurous and highly entertaining album.
In a similar manner to the first volume, this score is structured in chunks; individual tracks are bundled together across the album to form a bunch of usually action-centric musical events, with each representing a different episode from the back half of series one. The first “event” begins with the score’s opening track entitled Space Hotel, which starts with light strings before then adding rather hopeful and dramatic brass to make for quite an awe-inspiring piece overall. Things then pick up considerably for subsequent cue Thunderbirds March, which of course is absolutely fantastic; being a wonderfully orchestrated forty-five-second re-rendition of Barry Gray’s iconic Thunderbirds theme. The rescue theme from the first volume then gets an epic though sadly short reintroduction for the first minute of Thunderbird 3 Launch/Kayo On Board, before the tone then dramatically switches up from heroic to ominous in the back half. The action then culminates in Unbuilding The Station, a tense and percussion-heavy piece that simply doesn’t hold back on the drama. Overall, I have to say that as re-introductory tracks go, this album has pretty much nailed them. In short; the Thunderbirds are back.
Landing On The Moon is a particularly interesting cue, as if I’m not mistaken it takes some pretty heavy inspiration from Barry Gray’s compositional works for the 1966 Thunderbirds Are Go! movie. It’s a pretty mysterious and ominous piece overall, utilising deep and imposing brass in combination with rather sinister sounding percussion, and at points it sounds an awful lot like the music used in Zero-X’s exploration of Mars in that movie. Considering this track is also representative of outer space, I doubt this is a coincidence, and if so then it’s a very cool thematic throwback. The cue is then followed up by Three Six, a much more intense and thankfully lengthy action piece that’s pretty heavy on the brass and fast-paced action percussion.
The Hood’s theme then returns in The Hood Maleficent, a track that then kickstarts the next of the album’s episode-based “events”. Dramatic and imposing brass takes up much of this opening cue, setting a particularly menacing tone for tracks to come. Nab That Blighter! then brings back the action but in a much more jazzy fashion, with light yet rapid percussion together with an upbeat saxophone leading the charge. Rather intriguingly, synthesizers are then also woven into the mix, playing a surprisingly lightly-toned rendition of the Hood’s theme. Brace For Impact then returns to the more traditional-sounding Thunderbirds action stage with loud brass and several particularly heroic appearances of the rescue theme. The Hood’s theme then returns on synthesizers for the beginning of The Hood On The Ropes, before things then transition into more triumphant territory with a rather victorious rendition of the rescue theme.
Thunderbird 3 Rescue begins as you might expect; with several dramatic appearances from the rescue theme. This doesn’t last long however before the music slows down with strings, making for a much more downbeat track ending than one might have anticipated. The award for best track title then goes to Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No It’s An Alan!, a very action-centric and indeed heroic piece that just does not hold back on its orchestration, running wild with boisterous brass and very bold percussion. FAB Zero/A Pair Of Undesirables then opens with a unusually jazzy and strings-based rendition of the rescue theme before then moving into 60s spy territory completely with deep saxophones and that properly classical sounding Las Vegas-esque percussion. Intensity then returns in Nobody Drives Anymore, with fast-paced brass and loud percussion making for a pretty climactic cue overall.
Several loud and dramatic brass notes open Capturing Thunderbird 2, with rapid and thunderous percussion then following it up quickly afterwards in combination with several rather intense-sounding synthesizers. Towards the end we are then treated to a welcome appearance from several notes of Barry Gray’s Thunderbirds theme before the cue then comes to a rather dramatic end. He’s Not Acting Like A Good Guy starts off in quite a sinister manner with low and moody synthesizers before strings then join the fray and deep brass plays a quiet and kind of ominous rendition of the rescue theme. The tone then switches up considerably in the back half as vocals and brass sound out the particularly heroic return of the Thunderbirds Triumphant! theme from volume one. You Can’t Hide then pulls things right back down into rather malevolent territory, with quiet yet almost horror-like strings together with some very imposing brass.
Waxed And Detailed sees the return of an action music style previously introduced in track Three Six, and so what I initially assumed to be just action score from that cue now seems to be something a little more. This theory is then completely confirmed with a subsequent track entitled Kayo’s Theme, which opens with and then considerably fleshes out the same intense action style from the other two cues. As themes for characters go, I must say that I didn’t twig this as a motif at all initially, but despite that it actually works pretty well in the album, and now that I know it’s a theme it becomes a lot more recognisable (not to mention pretty enjoyable). Things then get considerably dramatic with standout cue The Final Push, a sadly short but overwhelmingly heroic piece that features the rescue, triumphant and original Thunderbirds themes woven together for a beautifully epic minute-long musical tapestry. To close things up, the album then treats us one more time with Closing Titles, which plays out the original theme in all its glory.
Overall, volume two of Ben and Nick Foster’s works for Thunderbirds Are Go is great. While for me it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first volume, it still manages to impress with some truly fantastic reprises of new themes (see the standout cue) and more than a few welcome returns to some of Barry Gray’s classic Thunderbirds material. In terms of new compositions, Kayo’s theme is pretty good, though it did take me a little while to catch it, and there are also a number of sublime action cues in here (He’s Not Acting Like A Good Guy, Three Six, Brace For Impact) that are well worth checking out. All-in, volume two is well composed, superbly orchestrated and of course; highly enjoyable.
Standout Cue: 50. The Final Push
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