A Song Before Annihilation: Crack in the World + Time (Johnny Douglas and his Orchestra)

This is a fascinating, frustrating artifact – a radio-ready 45 rpm of two themes (in alternate versions, natch) from Crack in the World, the 1965 science fiction / disaster picture from producer Philip Yordan (Day of the Triffids) and director Andrew Marton (King Solomon’s Mines). The late great Johnny Douglas provided the excellent and indelible score for the film as “John Douglas”, but much to the chagrin of film music buffs the master tapes for it appear to have been destroyed (“threw them out” is the depressing annotation here).

The alternate versions available on this 45 are for the main and romantic themes from the film (“Crack in the World” and “Time” respectively), and while they’re far from the full score recording fans may crave I’m damned happy to have them just the same (this 45 doesn’t show up all that often, and I snagged this copy swiftly when I saw it at auction). Each track is performed by Johnny Douglas and his Orchestra, and “Time” features The Rita Williams Singers as well.

A Song Before Annihilation: The Cyclops / The Amazing Colossal Man / War of the Colossal Beast (Albert Glasser)

What can I say. I’ve been in a Bert I. Gordon sort of mood as of late, which means that I’ve been in an Albert Glasser sort of mood as well. Though he composed heaps of scores across many genres during his 30 year career, it’s for his numerous collaborations with Gordon that I remember Glasser most. Playing in perfect concert with the director and special effects guru’s insatiable appetite for larger-than-life subject matter, Glasser’s scores for Gordon’s pictures tended to be brassy, martial, and utterly over the top. With giant grasshoppers clawing their way up the Wrigley Building and and an atom-charged giant laying waste to Las Vegas, subtlety was certainly not the order of the day.

Sampled here are the main title cues for Gordon’s trio of colossal man features – The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, and its sequel War of the Colossal Beast. Sources aren’t the best – The Cyclops and War of the Colossal Beast are each taken from VHS (for all my love of Blu-ray, yes, I still use a VCR), while The Amazing Colossal Man is taken from a digital rip of a cassette recording (presumably one of those Glasser himself was peddling in his later years). While abbreviated suites to the first two were made available on LP, War of the Colossal Beast has never seen a release to my knowledge. As is ever the case, I’d pay damn good money to have shiny remastered CD releases of all three.

A Song Before Annihilation: Prelude to The Space Children (Nathan Van Cleave)

There’s plenty wrong with Jack Arnold’s criminally underfunded The Space Children, released by Paramount in 1958, but Nathan Van Cleave’s score is certainly not one of them. Working largely with synths and organs with punctuation drawn in light percussion and brass, Cleave’s work develops an almost hymnal quality when its not busy hitting its deliciously moody sci-fi beats.  At a time when most of the majors were letting their stock libraries do the talking for their B-pictures Van Cleave flourishes, and The Space Children remains one of the best genre scores of its era.

Shared below is the opening cue from the film, titled simply Prelude. The full score, paired with Cleave’s musician’s strike-defying wonder The Colossus of New York, is out on CD from Film Score Monthly in a limited pressing of 1500, and available for purchase through Amazon or Screen Archives.