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A Listener's Guide

Space Escapades

Music Out of the Moon, Compositions by Harry Revel, Arrangements by Billy May and Les Baxter (Capitol)
One of the records that marks the start of the Space Age Pop era. Along with Music for Peace of Mind, it championed electronic music, prominently featuring Samuel Hoffmann's performance on the theremin. It also marked the start of Les Baxter's career as an arranger. The eerie sounds on this album have since become engrained in our cultural psyche as what space is supposed to sound like.

Space Escapades Cover

Space Escapades, Les Baxter (Capitol)
Perhaps THE classic Space Age Pop cover, a colorful shot of astronauts and space women enjoying friendly banter at a lively space cocktail party. I would say the music is lesser Baxter, but that would earn me the wrath of armies of Baxter fans.

Strings for a Space Age, Bobby Christian (Audio Fidelity)
Christian, a Chicago-based percussionist and frequently collaborator with Dick Schory, added strings and picked standard tunes with spacey-titles for this album.

From Another World, Sid Bass (Vik)
A pretty tame album with a great cover of a perky lady astronaut and some spacy graphics. Bass' charts are standard big band fare, but each cut is introduced by some electronic sounds--mostly simple stuff that could be doe with something as simple as a frequency generator.

Music from Outer Space, Frank Comstock (Warner Brothers)
Comstock tosses in theremin, electric violin (courtesy of Elliott Fisher), and other spacey sounds.

Music in Orbit, Ron Goodwin (Capitol)
Another entry in the space race, from the late 1950s, with a promising cover but fairly earth-bound music.

Fantastica, Russ Garcia (Liberty)
Original compositions by Garcia that imagines a scenic tour of the solar system, including a visit to the "Goofy People" of Phobos, on Saturn's moons.

Exploring the Unknown, Walter Schumann (Capitol)
Schumann, who wrote the theme to "Dragnet," formed a chorus and recorded some quite successful albums for Capital. Although this is also with "The Voices of ...," it's nothing like the glee club-style renditions of their other albums.

Destination Moon (soundtrack), Leith Stevens (Omega)
The versatile Stevens contributed a bravura soundtrack that has withstood the test of time and critical opinion better than the film itself.

Space Experience, Johnny Keating (London Phase 4)
One of the less ostenstatiously-spacey space albums, in keeping with the dense and subtle sounds of Keating's arrangements.

Forbidden Planet (soundtrack), Louis and Bebe Barron (Small Planet)
The first electronic score for a feature film, an interpretation of "The Tempest" set on an imaginary planet.

Man in Space with Sounds, Attilio Mineo (World's Fair Records)
Recorded to serve as background music for an exhibit at the 1962 Worlds Fair in Seattle, which also introduced the Space Needle as the prime piece of Space Age architecture in the world. Mineo was (is) an experimenter and creator of electronic music and instruments who provided the "spacey sounds" for Marty Manning's Twilight Zone album.

I Hear a New World, Joe Meek (Pye)
A strange production of tape and electronic wizardry by Meek, the studio mastermind behind the Tornadoes ("Telstar"), the Honeycombs, and other British pop-rock groups.

Astro Sounds from the Year 2000, 101 Strings (Alshire)
Not a violin within a mile of this dense, funky collection of all-electronic music.

Song of the Second Moon, the Electrosonics (Philips)
The Electronicsonics were Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan, who were among the wave of innovators in electronic music that rose in the mid-1960s. Dissvelt released just a solo album, Fantasy in Orbit, also on Philips, with the same theme and similarly strange, other worldly sounds. Jean-Jacques Perrey credits this album as one of his seminal influences.

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