Friday, November 18, 2016

The Tyrant King Soundtrack-1968

I spy The Beatles in that opening mural from the Tyrant King



The Tyrant King was a six part television series for children produced and directed by Mike Hodges and televised on Thames Television in October and November of 1968.  The show was based on the children's book by Aylmer Hall and revolves around the adventures of two siblings Charlotte and Bill Hallen and their friend Peter Thorne.  The trio use public transport to explore many of London's tourist attractions in hopes of solving the mystery of a sinister phone conversation they just happened to overhear.  



Mike Hodges of course went on to direct many television shows and films, three of my favorites are Get Carter, Flash Gordon and Croupier. The main attraction in The Tyrant King besides the interesting shots of London (visually its a bit like Kenneth Anger and Godard collaborating on a children's show) is the way Hodges propels the narrative using the then current psychedelic pop such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Nice, Cream and The Moody Blues.  It's really surprising that they were able to get all the music cleared for DVD release.



Hodges does an amazing job editing around vocals and cutting madly back and forth between instrumental sections of the songs to create his own score for the series, bits and pieces of which he returns to as motifs throughout the story.  It's a smashing period piece of London in 1968 and there's a lot of  unintentionally funny dialogue as the children are in the tradition of Enid Blyton's Famous Five -privileged upper class whose prejudices are well ingrained and on display regularly in their upper crust attitude. For instance the three kids make constant reference to the man following them, nicknamed Scarface, as being "probably Irish" almost as if that in itself was a pejorative- in fact in one scene the Hallen's father says "Irish, Scots, Welsh, all those heathen dialects sound the same to me".  In another episode an African tourist accidentally obscures their attempt to photograph Scarface, they jokingly refer to the man as the maharishi- though I suppose it could have been worse I was half expecting them to call him a wog. 



Although ostensibly made for children the show has some pretty creepy sequences especially in combination with the music Hodges uses. I imagine it made quite an impression on the children who saw it at the time. I've tried to recreate some of the musical motifs that are extracted from the songs, but not so much that it ends up an annoyance or just a string of snippets- many songs that weren't as easy to edit into bits I have left whole, almost all of the songs used reappear throughout the six part series if only for several seconds. I found two different references online to a Petula Clark and a T. Rex song used on the soundtrack, but I've watched the series twice and do not hear these song anywhere in any of the episodes. It would be odd if after clearing all the other music Petula and T. Rex were the lone hold outs. If anybody has info on where or if these songs appear in the show let me know and I can add them. Till then it sounds rather like a cracking mystery that needs some young sleuths to solve it.


DISC ONE TRACK LISTING

1. FROM THAMES TELEVISION THEME
2. THE THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK- THE NICE
3. JESAMINE- THE CASUALS
4. AS YOU SAID- CREAM
5. A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (FIRST EXCERPT)-THE PINK FLOYD
6. END OF PART ONE
7. A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (SECOND EXCERPT)- THE PINK FLOYD
8. ASTRONOMY DOMINE (EXCERPT)- THE PINK FLOYD
9. DR. LIVINSTONE, I PRESUME- THE MOODY BLUES
10. CORPORAL CLEGG- THE PINK FLOYD
11. JUGBAND BLUES- THE PINK FLOYD
12. END OF PART ONE
13. SUBURBIA- TIM ANDREWS
14. WE'RE ALL LOOKING FOR SOMETHING
15. LEGEND OF A MIND (EXCERPT)- THE MOODY BLUES
16. LET THERE BE MORE LIGHT- THE PINK FLOYD
17 SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE- CREAM

DISC TWO TRACK LISTING

1. FROM THAMES TELEVISION THEME
2. POW R. TOC H.- THE PINK FLOYD
3. DAWN- THE NICE
4. PASSING THE TIME- CREAM
5. WHITE ROOM- CREAM
6. WE'RE ALL LOOKING FOR SOMEONE
7. SHE'S A RAINBOW- THE ROLLING STONES
8. TANTALISING MAGGIE- THE NICE
9. DIAMOND HARD BLUE APPLES OF THE MOON- THE NICE
10. INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE- THE PINK FLOYD
11. HOUSE OF FOUR DOORS- THE MOODY BLUES
12. A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (END THEME)- THE PINK FLOYD


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