MUSIC FROM OUT OF SPACE !?
COUNT DOWN! BLAST OFF!
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by Tony Maygarden

There are many, many documentary albums covering the U.S. space program, especially the Apollo 11 moon flight. These all include original, authentic voices of astronauts, mission control and "as-it-happened" news reports, to a greater or lesser extent. Of the albums included in this roundup, only Journey to the Moon and (probably) Journey To Infinity use actual astronaut and mission control voices.

The Endless Groove may do an article on these documentary type space albums at a later date.

John Glenn souvenir LP cover

LP cover for audio documentary of John Glenn's "space shot," 1962.

 

Martians Come Back! LP cover

Martians Come Back
Shorty Rogers and His Giants


Shorty and his quintet and nine-man group play seven Rogers' originals plus the Basie-Young "Dickie's Blues." This is pretty much a straightforward late '50s jazz album, but some of the the tracks have "spacey" titles: "Astral Alley," "Planetarium," "Chant of the Cosmos," and the title track. Rogers is shown on the cover in a space helmet holding a flugelhorn. Cover shown here is the U.K. release on London Records from 1957 -- released on Atlantic Records in the U.S.

 

Sensational Sixties LP cover

Music For the Sensational Sixties
Don Elliott and his Orchestra


Versatile jazzman Elliott plays mellophone, vibes (I think) and sings his way through "Out Of This World," "Stella By Starlight," etc. He even gets in some scat singing on "Voca Jazz." The cover photo, with Don wearing a tuxedo and holding a mellophone whilst riding a Vespa scooter to the stars, is truly bizarre. The LP has a 1957 copyright, but may have been released later.

 

 

Countdown Time In Outer Space LP cover

Countdown -- Time in Outer Space
Dave Brubeck Quartet


This is the third album in the series by Brubeck and company exploring unusual time signatures and cross-rhythms. For example, the opening track "Countdown" features a boogie-woogie section where Brubeck plays a ten-note left hand pattern rather than the usual "eight-to-the-bar." Brubeck originals (with "Three's a Crowd " a classic) and one by saxman Paul Desmond. Other than the interesting notion that the unrestricted vastness of outer space lends itself to more variety and experimentation with rhythm, this is not really a "space" album. Dedicated to Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. Released in 1962 on the Columbia label.

 

 

Journey To Infinity LP cover

Journey To Infinity
Florida Symphony Orchestra, Bach Choir,
directed by Henry Mizer


Story of an imaginary moon voyage, with orchestral music and electronic musical effects, similar to Exploring the Unknown. It's hard to tell from the credits, but I think much of the mission control and astronaut chatter may be actual U.S. space flight recordings.Written by Charles T. Reece, narrated by Walter Sickles, introduction by Dr. Werner Von Braun! Gatefold cover includes a photo and illustration booklet of the journey. Released on the Audio Master label.

 

 

Something Beyond LP cover

Rod McKuen's
Something Beyond
Instrumental Suite
The Orchestra of Two Worlds
Arranged and Conducted by
Arthur Greenslade

McKuen is best known as a '50s-'60s popular poet and singer-songwriter, but it may come as a surprise to some that he also wrote many instrumental works -- no poetry here! By the title Something Beyond, I think McKuen means beyond the obvious, superficial and mundane world. I don't think he's talking about outer space, but inner space. Some of the compositions are a little light and bordering on e-z listening, but overall, this is a pretty interesting set, with the uptempo "Toward a New Religion," the contemplative "To Climb the Stars," and the beat-ballad (!) "It's Been a Difficult April" as standouts. The arrangements are judiciously given the "space" treatment with the integration into the orchestra of an unspecified electronic instrument (hence "The Orchestra of Two Worlds"), perhaps an Ondioline. Released on Liberty Records, 1967. Those wanting to know more about McKuen can visit his web site.

 

Journey To the Moon LP cover

Journey to the Moon
Music by the Sound of Genesis
Narration by Victor Jay


This odd album combines actual audio from the Apollo 11 astronauts and mission control with original music and narration. The music, mostly composed by John Madara and Tim Moore, is by turns atmospheric and uptempo Rockin' dance tunes, late '60s style. The sort-of heavy guitars in "Space Rock" are particularly tasty. The backing track to some of the Apollo 11 voice-overs features what sounds like an electric sitar. Members of the Sound of Genesis are
not credited. Released on Buddah Records in 1969.

 

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